October 2005 Archives

Monday, October 31, 2005

Everyone seems to have their own opinions about what are the best items to keep on hand for post-TEOTWAWKI bartering. I did mention a large variety of barter items in the Barter Faire chapter of my novel Patriots  (The chapter titled: "For an Ounce of Gold.") Of course many of the same items are important to keep on hand to dispense as charity.

Since two heads are better than one, and by extension 5,000 heads are better than two, I'm taking a poll:  Please e-mail me your lists of preferred barter and charity items, and I will gladly post them.

My personal favorites are:
.22 Long Rifle rimfire ammo
1 oz. bottles of military rifle bore cleaner
Waterproof duffle bags ("dry bags")
Thermal socks
Semi-waterproof matches (from military MRE rations)
Military web gear (lots of folks will *suddenly* need pistol belts, holsters, magazine pouches, et cetera.)
Pre-1965 U.S. silver dimes
1 gallon cans of kerosene
1 pound canisters of salt (may be worth plenty in inland areas)
Small bottles of two cycle gas mixing oil (for chainsaw fuel)
Rolls of olive drab parachute cord
Rolls of olive drab duct tape
Spools of monofilament fishing line
Rolls of 10 mil "Visqueen" sheet plastic (for replacing windows, etc.)

I also respect the opinion of one gentleman with whom I've corresponded, who recommended the following: Strike anywhere matches.
Playing cards.
Cooking spices.
Rope and string.
Sewing supplies.
Candle wax/wick.

Again, I would greatly appreciate seeing your barter and charity item lists.  Please e-mail me your lists and I will post them in the next few days.

When building a homemade fallout shelter in a basement, or on a cement slab inside the first floor, it is important to understand halving thickness and protection factors.
First of all, after a nuclear detonation, there will be light, heat, and a blast wave. This essay assumes that you will be out of that target area, with your home and roof intact. If you are close to targets, you may need better shelter than this improvised model. At the end of this essay I will list a few sources showing target maps, fallout maps, blast areas, etc.
Fallout is the mixture of the dirt and materials at the site of the blast, all mixed up with radioactive material. Every single piece is radioactive. Near the blast it can fall out like gravel, then farther away like rice grains, then like sand, and then like fine powder. And every fallout particle is sending out gamma rays.

You need to take almost immediate shelter for the gamma radiation from fallout. Gamma rays are part of the electromagnetic spectrum, like radio waves and X-rays and light. If you picture the fallout landing on trees and the ground being like tiny little light bulbs, you realize that even in a basement there will be dim, indirect light. If your basement walls stick up a couple feet above the ground level, there will be lots of little light bulbs all along the edge of the basement shining at you. As light and radio waves reflect off the atmosphere, in the same way the gamma rays scatter off the air. Little light bulbs will land on trees and the roof. You want to dim/block them as much as possible, on all four sides and overhead.

A halving thickness is the amount of material that will block half of the gamma rays passing through it. Any mass will block them, whether lead or feathers, sand or chocolate bars, as long as you have enough mass. You can use all of your survival foods and other items to add extra shielding.
Here is a list of materials and their approximate halving thicknesses. (References differ slightly when listing these figures.)

2.2” concrete
3.5” sand or dirt
4.4” water
8.8” wood
7” books or magazines
4”hollow concrete blocks
3.2” red bricks
5” broken anthracite coal
5” wet peat moss

Here is where many items you are storing up can contribute to shielding. [JWR Adds: If in sealed containers, these foodstuffs will still be safe to consume after shelter emergence if any residual fallout dust is first washed off of the exterior of the container.]
7” sugar
7” navy or soy beans
7” butter or oil
7” shelled corn
7” wheat
7” potatoes
7” rice
12” coffee beans
9” apples

Now, one layer of any item above will block half the gamma rays. That is 1/2, which is called a protection factor (PF) of 2 (read only the denominator of the fraction). 1/2 of the rays are hitting you, 1/2 are blocked. By adding one more halving thickness, you block half of the remaining gamma rays, so now 1/4 are hitting you. So you have a protection factor (PF) of 4. Another layer blocks 1/2 of that remaining 1/2 of the radiation, so that means only 1/8 of the original total outside radiation is hitting you, and you have a PF of 8.
A fourth layer of anything listed above blocks half of that 1/8 radiation still entering, so now we only have 1/16 of the outside gamma rays hitting our body. ( PF 16)
5 layers= PF 32
6 layers=PF 64
7 layers=PF 128
8 layers=PF 256
9 layers=PF 512
10 layers=PF 1024

Now, how much of a PF do you need? The answer involves how much gamma radiation, or rads/ Roentgens, are in the fallout outside your house. They are called “R”. The less R the better. 50 in one day is considered the most you can safely handle, or 10 a day for a week, or 100 over the course of two weeks. So your shelter must not let you get more than 100 R in two weeks. (It is far safer to get none or almost none.)

So, how many R will be outside after bombs, and how does PF relate?  The first question depends on where you are and where the bombs are, how big the bombs are, and where the wind is blowing. If you are 25 miles from a total of two megatons blowing your direction, during the course of two weeks there will about 4,500 R total outside. If 200 Russian bombs go off nationwide, the East coast can easily get 20,000 R outside during two weeks. If you are 25 miles from a target that might get four big bombs you could easily have 20,000 R outside. Suitcase nukes would produce much less fallout. You have to decide if you expect limited suitcase nukes, a limited Russian strike with MIRVs (several bombs on one target area equaling one megaton total), or a “real” nuclear war with perhaps hundreds of big bombs of two or more megatons each. Sources below show fallout possibility maps.
Now, how does PF relate to the R outside?
Remember that the bottom denominator of the fraction is the PF, telling you what fraction of the fallout (R) is hitting you. A PF of 2 means half of it is hitting you. A PF of 16 means 1/16 of it is hitting you. A PF of 100 means only 1/100 is hitting you.
If it is 20,000 R total outside during two weeks, you don’t want to get more than 100 R, so you need a PF of 200. Makes sense? Divide the R by the PF. 20,000 divided by 200=100. If one 2 megaton bomb detonates near you, and the R over two weeks is 4,000, what PF do you need to only get 100 R? 4,000 divide by what equals 100? Answer is 40.So, a shelter with a PF of only 40 can save your life. This is the FEMA minimum standard. PF 200 is much safer. The ideal is PF 1,000, which equals about 3 feet of dirt or sand, or 22” of cement. STRIVE TO GET AS CLOSETO A PF 1000 AS YOU CAN, OR AT THE VERY LEAST A PF 200.
Now the basement shelter should have a PF 1000 on all four sides. If you cover the exposed sides of the basement, outside, up and over the ceiling level, with ten layers of the halving thickness chart items (3 feet of sand or 4 feet of hollow concrete blocks) your basement will have an automatic PF of 10. That means 90% of the fallout is already blocked, and you need to only get a PF of 100 on the four inside walls and overhead for a total PF of 1000. That means seven layers of the materials listed above.
4 feet thick of old magazines and paper will work. Stagger some water barrels. You can get 5 gallon buckets of wheat and rice and beans, and stagger them so there is 4 feet total of wheat and beans on the sides. About 5 feet of wood works too. Personally, I think the 7 foot thick wall of coffee is a good idea.

The hardest part is the overhead shielding. A basement support with 10.5” of sand 3.5x3) has three halving thicknesses or a PF of 8. Add one more layer and you are up to PF 16. My first and second floor and roof are at least another halving thickness for a PF of 32.
(This is easily done with the steel shelving units at Home Depot that hold 2,000 lbs per each top shelf (20 cubic feet of sand): with two units that is a foot of sand over 40 square feet. [this was my method, but I don’t trust the specs and used more supports per cubic foot.] Or make your own supports with 4x4’s, or cinder blocks with 1/2 inch plywood. Try to get 4 layers ( PF 16) overhead, using sand, or maybe some cinder blocks with a waterbed on top of that. Hopefully the house floors and roof will then get you to PF 32.)
As soon as the bombs go off, you pile 7” of books and wheat and beans on the first floor directly overhead. That gives you a PF of 64. (The overhead PF of 32-64 will save your life if all four sides are PF 1000, even if fallout is severe.) Better to pile on more stuff though, another 7” of stuff- plenty of your cans and heavy items. Anything with mass. That gives you a PF of 128 just from last minute living room piles. This is for a worst case scenario. But if we have a limited strike, the fallout will be far less for most of us. Even one waterbed overhead on the first floor, with 9” of water, gives a PF of 4. That means you get 1/4 of the initial radiation. If it is 600 R overhead, with no shelter you will get severely ill and might die. Just using the waterbed over the basement with basement walls covered up outside all the way up, means that you get 150 R and will be basically OK.
So, the moral of this story is, start now and do what you can. Don’t feel like it is useless to only do a little, if you can’t do a perfect shelter. Do what you can now and build up the shielding as you get money. Start with a foot on all sides, and try and get to 18”. Then go for two feet next summer. Think about your stash of preps and books, and what can go overhead on the first floor. Mark off the first floor spot that will have last minute cans and buckets and books. Clear the basement area, and get the flashlights and bedding ready. Try really, really, hard to do something in the basement- overhead- now, even an old table you can lie down under covered with cans and buckets.

You can find lots of useful information here: http://www.radshelters4u.com/, including a free download of Nuclear War Survival Skills, and all sorts of maps and diagrams.
Our favorite book for basement shelters is J Allan South’s “The Sense of Survival.” This wonderful little chart compares the mass of many items. Use sand and dirt as your standard for a halving thickness, and you can see how various things like beans and wheat and wood compare.  http://www.reade.com/Particle_Briefings/spec_gra2.html

JWR Adds: I consider a home fallout shelter a must for anyone that is serious about preparedness.  The end of the Cold War--culminating with the breakup of the former Soviet Union--significantly increased the risk of the use of nuclear weapons. (Since traditional nation states are are much more responsible with their toys than are rogue states or terrorist groups.)  Two SurvivalBlog advertisers (Safe Castle and Ready Made Resources) offer prefabricated shelters as well as consulting on shelter construction and HEPA air filtration systems.  Also, be sure to read the extensive information on fallout shelter design, construction and ventilation available for free download at Dr. Arthur B. Robinson's Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine web site.

I just discovered these cool "Hit and Miss" gas engines made in the 1920s and 1930s by Maytag. They were used to power washing machines. Very simple engine; maybe one horsepower. You start it with a foot pedal that leverages a gear to spin the crankshaft to get it going. What a wonderful little engine for a remote location.  These could be used to power the washing machine or even run a small generator to charge up a bank of 12 volt batteries. I noticed that there are currently several for sale on eBay and they even have leather drive belts for them and water pumps. Could be used to fill up a water tank for gravity feed. - Fred

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds." - Samuel Adams

Sunday, October 30, 2005

In response to the excellent article, "The Micro-Farm Tractor", I have to say my best bet for all-around small farm tool would be the diesel all terrain vehicle (ATV). ATVs have quickly infiltrated into many farms today, as haulers, sprayers, snowplows, transport, and so on. You can purchase many available farm accessories that make it into the equivalent of a mini-tractor, as well has many hunting related accessories, since they appeal to the hunter's market as well, like gun racks, camo, storage, and essential noise-cutting mufflers (very effective units can be had at Cabela's). I would suggest a diesel unit, since they are longer lasting, more reliable, and you can use stored (for several years with proper preservation) or improvised diesel (biodiesel.)  I was out elk hunting last year in foul weather and I immediately saw the advantage hunters had getting around in the muck with an ATV. If we had actually taken an elk, we would have had to spend all weekend hauling pieces of it out! (In a way we were glad we didn't get one where we were hunting, seven miles down a mucky old road, with steep hills to the right and a steep ravine to the left). With an ATV, we could have gotten a whole animal out in one or two goes, with a lot less slogging in the muck. Just make sure you've got a winch, and maybe even a come-along. Also, many of the hunters were able to cruise with an ATV on trails that would (and have) gotten me stuck in the mud. To sum it up, I plan on purchasing one or two as soon as our move to a few acres of rural property in southern utah is completed early next year to use as my mini-tractor, hunting companion, snowplower, all-around hauler and 4 wheel drive short distance transport. - Dustin

JWR Replies:  In addition to biodiesel, you can also legally use home heating oil if operating off road. (The only significant differences between diesel and home heating oil are the "no tax cheating" added dye and the standard for ash content.) There are several options for diesel-powered ATVs. These include:

The Kawasaki Mule. See: http://www.atvsource.com/manufacturers/kawasaki/2003/mule_3010_diesel.htm


The John Deere Gator. See:  http://off-road.com/atv/reviews/quads/gator-2003_02/

(The U.S. Army Special Forces uses John Deere Gators, but I'm not sure if that's because they are the best ones made, or just because of a "Buy American"  contracting clause. Perhaps one of our SurvivalBlog readers in SOCOM can comment on their opinion of the Gators.

Note: Polaris also made a diesel quad back around 2002, but they were reportedly problematic, so they were quickly discontinued.

Per the letter from the Blog reader regarding CONEX containers- Yes they are a great way to store bulk supplies at your retreat. I've been using them for almost eight years now and have noticed several things when using them.

First, try to get one made of "COR-TEN" steel. My father has years of metalworking experience and pointed out one of ours that is made of COR-TEN. It reputedly holds up better. I've seen a noticeable difference in the one COR-TEN we have compared to several others not made of it.

You might want to weigh the difference in cost between finding one locally or buying one closer to the coast and preferably a major seaport where they will be cheaper. Shipping costs being the deciding factor, as well as condition of container. We've never paid more than $1,500 for a 40 foot container and you can find them for around $1,000. if you shop around. Keep in mind most places will just give you a general quote on the phone. You want to go to their yard and check one out for yourself, make sure the doors close and latch properly, climb up on the roof, and inspect closely for holes.

Figure out EXACTLY where you want it dropped, unless you have heavy equipment- and I don't mean a small tractor- you will not be moving it from that position.

Go to the junkyard and get four to six old metal tire rims. Put them down on the corners below the container. It will help air circulate a little bit under it. We've had problems with moisture coming up from the ground in to two of the units. Doing this helped the problem immensely.

Readers should plan to ventilate the containers, as you mentioned, even if it's just for storage. They get very hot. Might not be an issue up North, but it is here in the South.

Re: Use as a bunker or as hardened shelter, etc. Keep in mind that CONEX/SeaLand type containers have most of their strength in the floor and on the corners of the roof (which is probably why they can stack them a dozen high on ships). You absolutely MUST reinforce the insides if you plan on completely burying one. (Such as 6x6s or heavy timbers.)

Here is what [U.S. Army] FM 5-103 "Survivability" says about containers (page 4-31):
"Large metal shipping containers such as CONEX containers, are used to make effective shelters... ...are easily converted into protective command posts, communications shelters, troop shelters, aid stations, and shelters for critical supplies. Because the CONEX container's floor is stronger than it's roof, it is inverted to resist more blast and provide some overhead cover. Although the shelter sometimes constructed above ground, it is easier to construct it below ground by placing the inverted CONEX container in a hole half it's height and then covering the roof with earth."

For our purposes, shipping containers make great storage facilities and can make use as initial entrances into shelter systems, housing for families, etc. They are fairly secure and can be used for pre-positioning of bulk supplies even at the "absentee owner" type retreat. Hope this helps. - Mr. Lima

Hello! I just finished reading Patriots   for a third time - INCREDIBLE book. I'm also a good friend of "Dr. Buckaroo Banzai." I have a master's degree in immunology and teach in a nursing program at a local college. My comments are aimed at the general education of the readership of your blog. The immune system operates largely on the function of T-helper cells. There are two main T-helper varieties. One variety (T-h1) deals with intracellular pathogens (viruses, few bacteria) and the other (T-h2) deals with extra-cellular pathogens (majority of bacteria, protozoa, fungi).  What separates these two groups are the cytokines (chemicals which modulate immune response) that are released. T-h1 cytokines promote immunity to intracellular pathogens AND SUPRESS the function of T-h2 cells. What this means is that the body's response to a viral infection WILL leave the patient more susceptible to a bacterial infection. The opposite is true as well - bacterial infections leave the body less prepared to deal with viral infections. Just thought you'd want some of the background here! Keep up the good work, keep your powder dry, and God bless! - Dr. Rocky J. Squirrel

Thanks for keeping up the good work. I have inadvertently discovered a great power outage alarm. We were bought a carbon monoxide detector a while back. Whenever the power is cut, or the unit is un-plugged, it WILL wake you up!   I don't know how long it continues to go off because it is so loud, I get it stopped right away. This is an item we should all have, too, just to detect the carbon monoxide. - Sid

Mr. Rawles, this started out as an entry for your preparedness articles writing contest. Unfortunately, it took a different turn and I don't have the time to devote to it. The value of my research is these pictures. See:  http://www.curevents.com/vb/showthread.php?p=169180#post169180 I hope you enjoy! - Johnny, a.k.a. swampthing

"We are never prepared for what we expect."  - James A. Michener, Caravans

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Today we feature still another entry for the SurvivalBlog writing contest. The prize is a transferable four day course certificate, good for any course at Front Sight. Get your non-fiction articles submitted via e-mail by the end of November to be considered for the contest. Most of the articles that have been submitted thusfar are fairly general.  Feel free to submit detailed articles on specific topicsAll will be considered for posting.

I have been a soldier, police officer, and am now working overseas as a security contractor in Afghanistan. I’ve attended and given a great deal of firearms related training, and over the past few years I’ve started to see a serious deficiency in typical law enforcement and self defense training. The United States is a country filled with people who live lives mostly untouched by serious violence. That fact is a good thing, and is a testament to our country, but it handicaps us in the way we train ourselves and our warriors, particularly our police. I want to cut directly to the main issue I see. In my experience most shooters who practice with any frequency have decent basic skills. I see quite a few who are very good shots and have some basic tactical skills. Americans have access to good firearms and equipment, as do American police officers. However, I believe most self defense minded people, and indeed most police officers, are trained to fail by their departments, their instructors, and their society.

Most police departments require officers to qualify quarterly, and many departments are moving toward realistic shooting and away from static paper punching. The department I worked for offered different holsters for officers, and if officers wanted to change, they had to practice with the holster and demonstrate at the range that they could smoothly draw and make accurate shots very quickly. Technically most of the officers were decent and some were quite skilled with their equipment. Many fired their weapons on a weekly basis and dry fired daily to keep skills sharp.

Where the department and society in general let them down was in mental preparation. If an officer is involved in a shooting, the officer is immediately put on suspension while the incident is investigated. Most of the time, though admittedly not all, the suspension creates a pall around the officer. Counselors are brought in and the officer is typically required to attend. The legal environment is such that officers live in fear of the almost certain law suit that will follow the shooting. If the officer has done everything right, the chances of losing an actual trial in front of a jury are small, but officers know the agency/city or county my settle for a lesser amount to put the issue away. City managers would rather write a smaller check and settle with the wounded or dead criminal’s family than suffer the small percentage chance of suffering a multi-million dollar judgment in court. This scenario assumes the officer survived the shooting, or more accurately, applied all his training to the situation, made the right decisions, and used his skill with his weapons to defend his life or the life of another. Many other officers lose their lives because the doubts and fears we train into them cause them to hesitate at the critical moment and lose the encounter.

We have in effect trained our officers to fail. This applies to citizens training for self defense as well, because much of the training taken by citizens is at the same schools police officers use. Indeed, at the local level, many of our police officer run side businesses and train locals in basic skills so they can qualify for concealed carry permits.
The fact that an officer is immediately removed from duty after a shooting, investigated while the media has a field day and his department offers non-committal statements until they see which way the legal/public opinion wind is blowing pounds the idea in the officer’s mind that he has done something wrong or heinous. The officer is taught that defending himself, doing the job he was hired to do, is bad. He is also taught that he should feel quite remorseful after the action, and due to that remorse require counseling. Those facts are also observed by his fellow officers. These activities set the officer up for a difficult future.

I understand the legal ramifications for a department and I know why officers are given days off after a critical incident such as a shooting. What I am arguing against is the passive and shameful mindset that accompanies a shooting. When an officer survives a shooting by employing his skills, he should be rewarded not taught to feel shame and fear of legal reprisal.
Likewise, a citizen who defends his family from an intruder at 3 a.m. has done a heroic thing, not something to be ashamed of. If you disagree with my stance here, ask yourself what you would say to a family member who shot an intruder: Would it be, “Oh my goodness, that is terrible, you must feel awful” or would it be, “Congratulations, your kids and family are safe and you did the right thing.” If you read this website, you might be one of the rare people to offer encouragement, but you also know what the majority of people would say.

My Experience
In my current position I face more violence than I did as a soldier or a police officer. I also face a less complicated legal environment, though I do occupy a gray area in terms of use of force in this country, and therefore have to worry about losing my job or suffering prosecution in local courts. I have been in several shootings here, some that would best be described as small battles. A few times I have been in one, and then in another later in the day. I am not given time off, counseling, or therapy, nor do I need it. The actions I have taken were proper and I do not lose a wink of sleep over it. Speaking to my police friends brought home these problems for me, because I heard repeated statements such as, “How do you deal with it, that must be very tough…etc.”

The work can be difficult, but I was hired because I am an armed professional, and I should not fall to pieces the first time I am required to demonstrate that professionalism. If I had fallen apart, my employer would have been right to fire me. I don’t suffer any mental anguish over my work, because I am a professional, understand my environment, and act properly. These lessons may seem far removed from your situation, but if you carry or own a weapon for protection, your outlook should be the same as mine. It does no good to survive a shooting, and then crumble afterward.

Societal Issues
Our society will not admit that it is proper to defend yourself or your family at the current time due to several factors in my opinion, but that does not make the desire to defend yourself and your family any less worthwhile or heroic. The United States has had an increasing standard of living for many years, and many people are generations removed from genuine life threatening hardship. This has resulted in a mental and physical softening of the general population. They have never been faced with life and death choices and cannot truly conceive that others have. It is also a fact that it takes large amounts of money to own media outlets and most people who have enough money to own or hold high positions in such media outlets reside in major cities. They live in a world even more insulated than most other Americans (already an insulated group as a whole), and they present their view of the world in their newspaper or on their television channel. Thus Americans see a skewed view of life in the media. I am not broaching the “liberal bias” issue here, simply saying that most of the people who own major media share certain life experiences and tend to represent those in the media. Those life experiences are not consistent with the way the majority of Americans live.

Issues You Should Consider
If you are involved in a shooting, whether as a police officer or a citizen, you should consider a few ideas. Be confident in yourself and your actions, but do not make broad statements to friends, the media, or peers until the legal situation is resolved. Don’t wear offensive or tasteless clothing (such as, “The only good criminal is a dead criminal,” or “Gun control means shooting with two hands”) either before or after the incident. While these things may seem funny, you will be tried in the court of public opinion as well as a court of law, and both may be done concurrently at times. You should not want your actions to appear lighthearted or frivolous about what you have done. The confidence you should have is not the kind to trumpet on a t-shirt or bumper sticker. You have protected yourself and/or your family and you should be proud and confident, but not to the point of your own detriment.
If you are a police officer, attend any training and or counseling your department requires. But do so with an air of quiet confidence, not shame or fear. If your department gives you several days off after the incident, don’t sit home and brood about the incident. Take your spouse and children out of town for a few days to a place you will all enjoy. Go to dinner and be your normal self. You will instill confidence in them by your actions, and they will learn valuable lessons about self defense and dignity from you. Conduct yourself as properly as you did during the incident, and be happy, because you are still alive and able to enjoy the ones you love.

We all have a right to a decent, safe life. When some thug tries to steal that right from us or someone we love, and we shoot him, we have not done a bad act, he has. We cannot change our society as a whole, at least not quickly, but we can change how we feel and view our own actions. Be proud of yourself and your decision to be responsible for your own life and continue holding your head high if you are forced to use your firearm to defend yourself or your family.

I’ve recently been shopping around for used sea containers [Continental Express or "CONEX" transoceanic shipping containers], primarily to replace the weathered sheds that came with our property. While I haven’t sold my wife on the idea yet, we have been looking at metal sheds, which are more expensive and much less durable. You can purchase sea containers for a fairly reasonable price (approximately $1500 for a 20’ unit). Naturally, I started thinking about other possible uses for them (shelter, fallout shelter, etc.), and wanted to see if you, or any other bloggers, had any experience with using them in the survival context. They’re weather tight, can be purchased insulated, and are steel. Seems like there must be some pretty interesting possibilities there. - P.H.

JWR Replies:  I agree that despite the recent price increases, CONEXes are still a bargain. Many thousands of U.S. soldiers and Marines are billeted in converted CONEXes in Iraq.  These are called Containerized Housing Units (CHUs).  This consists of CONEX retrofitted with a door, window, top vent, power cabling, and an air conditioning unit.  These are pretty Spartan accommodations, but it sure beats living in a tent.

Just keep in mind that if you use a CONEX for above ground storage then a "spinner" vent should definitely be added to the roof . Why?  Because CONEXes tend to sweat inside.  (For the same reason, do not stack cardboard boxes directly against the interior walls.)

Don't count on a CONEX being truly secure storage if your retreat property is not continuously occupied. Welding on a shroud to protect a padlock from attack by bolt cutters is a good idea. But given enough time, a determined thief will just come back with a cutting torch.

Perhaps some SurvivalBlog readers will have some detailed suggestions for the various uses of CONEXes, or if any of you are deployed troops that are billeted in a CHU, please e-mail me with your comments!

I am fairly new to the survival lifestyle and I'm still learning. I've been in the military and have been hunting and shooting since I was a small child, so I'm okay there. I'm interested in obtaining some night vision goggles for use after hurricanes (I live in southeast Louisiana) and for patrols if TEOTWAWKI occurs. One of my neighbors is way ahead of me and has actually done some business with you on Valmet parts, etc. He trusts you and I trust him, so I wanted to get your opinion on STANO Components. I assume that since they are a link on your website that you have personal experience with them and that they are a reputable company. However, in today's world, I feel it is necessary to confirm this. Would you please share with me your feelings and opinions regarding STANO Components? Thank You, - R.V. in Louisiana

JWR Replies: I only know of Al Glanze (who operates STANO Components, Inc., in Silver City, Nevada) by reputation. But what a great reputation! One of the SurvivalBlog readers featured in the Profiles section ("Mr. Tango"--a night vision expert) told me that he has bought nearly all of his night vision gear from STANO Components. He tells me that Al Glanze is extremely reputable, sells only top quality gear, and has a fantastic reputation for customer service. He mentioned that on several occasions Al was willing to let "Mr. Tango" hand pick image intensifier tubes based on "in the field" side-by-side nighttime tests. (Checking for subtle differences such as minimum scintillation--commonly called "the sparklies.") Virtually all of the U.S.-made scopes that STANO Components sells come with certified data sheets. (Stating the exact number of line pairs and other critical data.)

Beware that there is a lot of junk on the night vision market--especially Russian junk--with fake data sheets. Most of the rebuilt U.S.-made equipment one the market was put together on someone's kitchen table, often using image intensifier tubes of dubious quality with an unknown number of hours of operating time. But, in contrast, you can buy from STANO Components with confidence.

Mr. Rawles.
I read your book and I found it both entertaining and full of information as many others did. I live Argentina, South America where things have been hard after the 2001 economical collapse we suffered. We changed five presidents in one week, if you can believe that, and well… we are struggling to get back on our feet, though it sometimes it seems that it’s impossible. "When it finally seems as if we hit bottom, someone starts to shovel."
I started reading your letters on Survivalblog.com and find them, again full of valuable insight. There are a couple of things that, in my most humble personal experience, might differ from what you estimate may happen after a crisis. Medical health companies, for example have made a lot of profit. This is because public health isn’t worth a penny, they are on strike most of the time and lack the most basic health implements like disposable needles, cotton, etc. People either have private health insurance or die like rats over here. As for the popularity of gambling and casinos, don’t ask me why please, I’m clueless, but it seems that the poorer the people, the more they gamble. Most poor neighborhoods, some that even lack tap water or gas service, places that don’t even have light, there you can find one big shiny Bingo in the middle of the place. Please excuse my English, its not as good as it should be. Just wanted to let you know how things developed over here, concerning those issues, thought you might find them interesting. I posted some general thoughts concerning urban survival at a place called frugalsquirrel.com under the name of FerFAL at the General Patriot Discussion forum: http://www.frugalsquirrels.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=044387;p=1

It’s just things I noticed, some stuff I do myself to get by, in this now-turned Third World country. Regards, - Fernando in Argentina

I try to keep my daily quotes short, so forgive me for subjecting you to four stanzas. But that article from Jeff in Afghanistan reminded me of Kipling...

If, by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting;
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating;
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Today we feature yet another entry for the SurvivalBlog writing contest. The prize is a transferable four day course certificate, good for any course at Front Sight. Be sure to enter your non-fiction articles via e-mail by the end of November to be considered for the contest.

My goal, like so many of us, is to be able to pre-bugout, to a retreat I can live on full time. I dream of having a few acres out in the country where I can mostly support myself on what can be produced on my own land. When I first started to think about it, and plan for it, the first question of course is “How much land?” After getting past the obvious answer, “As much as possible”, came the more reasonable answer of: “enough to do accomplish my primary goal of optimal self-sufficiency.” After more study I came to realize that five or so acres is about all I could really work. Five acres, when worked intensively, will produce far more than a family of four can consume. This five acres would contain everything, House, Barn, a one to two acre garden, chickens, Rabbits, Goats, et cetera.

So having settled on five to seven acres, I turned to the issue of what tools, equipment, and other assets would be needed to make my micro-farm work. Beyond the usual hand tools. And shop tools, my research led me to study power equipment appropriate for the Micro-Farm. What I found was the Two-Wheel, or "Walk-behind" Tractor. A good example of the class is the BCS 852 with a 10 horsepower diesel engine. It has a single cylinder engine mounted in front of a trans axle. The Trans axle drives a pair of wheels that are from 3.5 to 6.5 inches wide, and 8 to 12 inches in diameter. It is also equipped with front and rear Power Takeoffs (PTOs) used to transfer power to a variety of implements. For me this is the optimum retreat utility tractor. To justify that statement I need to go into a bit more detail as to why. As with all things, this selection is based on my plans and intentions, but I believe that they are generic enough to qualify as a general solution for most people, but as always Your Mileage may Vary (YMMV).

The factors I am taking into consideration are:

Size of Farm.
Number of people available to work it.
Fuel availability/economy
Life expectancy under the projected load

The truth is most of us have not, or will not be able to acquire more than five to 10 acres of land. If you can get more, fine, get it; you can’t have too much land, but you can leave yourself short on other things by buying more land than you really need, or can work.
In most cases the garden will be run by just one or two people, either because of off farm employment or the kids may be grown and gone before you make the move. People that are already doing this will tell you that one to two acres, if worked as intensively as is reasonably possible is all one person can handle. If you have more land, then you have the option of bartering produce, for labor to work more acres. But I would still keep it in two-acre units.
The core concept of survivalism/preparedness is independence; you can’t be independent if you can’t do most, if not all the maintenance yourself. While yes, most anyone with any mechanical aptitude at all can work on most regular tractors, however they have four times as many cylinders, fuel injectors, and fuel lines, twice as many tires, use much more fuel, and mostly are too much tool for two to five acres.
When the world ends there will be NO more fuel deliveries from anywhere, and if there are then they will be prohibitively expensive. So you need a fuel that you can produce yourself, to me this means biodiesel. It’s a fuel you can make yourself; it will substitute directly into the tank with NO modifications to the engine, and gives almost exactly the same performance, as regular diesel.
So with these concepts in mind I started thinking about what the ideal tool would be. I eliminated most regular four wheeled tractors like the Ford 9N and the International Harvester (IH) Farmalls because to buy one of their modern counterparts new is very expensive, and to find parts for older ones that you can buy on the cheap can also be expensive. While there has been a lot of development in compact and subcompact tractors in the last few years, they are mostly compact technical wonders that have all kinds of computerized fuel injection systems, high volume, high pressure hydraulics, and just lots and lots of things that need to be maintained or fixed. Simplicity is crucial.
My search for information about small farm tractors, as with most things today, started online. I started from the position that a Walk-behind Tractor would be the optimum choice because on the surface it met two of the most important criteria, Fuel requirements, and maintainability. The MOST important question remained, how much land could be worked with it and still expect it to last a lifetime.

Dean M., one of my online sources, who has actually been running a Market Garden since 1989, says that much of that time was spent downsizing his garden to it’s current 1.5 acres. According to Dean,one to two acres is about all one person can work, when trying to maximize the production of a garden. The general consensus is, that the limit on how large a garden you could work with one of these machines,is really set by how much labor was available, rather than the capacity of the machine.
To answer that question I needed input from an expert. In my web search I found many companies that make and sell this kind of equipment, but they are almost ALL overseas. Of the domestic companies most only sell Walk-behinds as a sideline. I found a company in Owenton KY, which specializes in small-scale commercial agriculture equipment. Joel Dufour founded Earth Tools in 1977, and all they sell is Walk-behind tractors. .

I asked Mr. Dufour about the capability, capacity, and requirements of walk behind tractors for a TEOTWAWKI scenario. He recommended not the largest one he sells, the 948 but rather the model 852, which comes with an optional 10 hp diesel engine. He says the 852s are far more versatile than the 948. Based on what his customers are actually doing with the units, and have been doing for nearly 30 years he gave me the following information about capabilities, and requirements of these units.
You can work up to two acres of Market garden per person, and/or about 15 acres of Haying for livestock. With proper preventative maintenance, used in a commercial agricultural operation, a tractor like he sells will last 20+ years. They can haul up to one ton on a two-wheel trailer. Depending on the specific task, running 8 hrs on a gallon of fuel is possible. He has several customers that make their own biodiesel and run their 852s on it, and have reported no problems.

When it comes to maintenance requirement the diesel engines are designed for 5000 hours TBO (Time Between Overhauls), and are meant to be rebuilt twice before replacing crankshafts or connecting rods. That means that the engines have a 15,000 hr life span minimum (with proper maintenance). For routine maintenance they only use 1.5 quarts of oil per change, which needs to be done every 75 ours or annually--whichever comes first. The oil filter is cleanable and the air filter is replaceable. The conical clutch lasts 1000 – 2000 hrs, and can be replaced in less than 2 hrs. All maintenance, including overhauls can be done with regular hand tools, the only exception being one $25 tool for working on the transmission if it’s ever needed.

One point that Mr. Dufour thinks is undersold is safety. He pointed out that one of the most common fatal accidents on a farm is a tractor rollover. When operating one of these units on a slope, even if you were on the downhill side of the machine, and you couldn’t get out of the way, they only weight about 300 lbs, so it is very unlikely you would suffer a life threatening injury. Where as with even the smallest of standard tractors if it rolls over on you, death is the very likely outcome.

So let’s look at how these machines match my original requirements:
Size of Farm:
A 10 HP machine will work as much land as most of us will be able to get, and work, without being too big for the job.
Number of people available to work the land:
The constraint is number of people vs. planting/harvesting schedule; again it is well matched to the 5 to 15 acres, with which most of us will wind up.
There is nothing that the owner can’t do on these machines, from routine maintenance to a complete overhaul, which would require more than basic mechanics hand tools, and one inexpensive specialty tool.
Safety: I don’t care how much the machine can do or how well it does it, the one thing that you absolutely cannot afford in the post-TEOTWAWKI world, is an injury. So the machine that is least likely to cause me harm is WAY up on my list
Fuel availability/economy:
These units can be had with Gas, or Diesel engines. Gas engines can be run on alcohol with modification. Diesel engines can be run on biodiesel without modification.
Life expectancy under the projected load:
You can work as much acreage as you have time and people to work without over working the tractor. They are truly an agricultural grade machines, not glorified Home duty units.
While I’m not trying to sell this particular tractor, however if we use its characteristics as a baseline then I think it is fare to say that a diesel Walk-behind Tractor would make an ideal vehicle for a Micro-farm. It is the core power unit for almost all farm tasks, can be adapted to do just about anything else that requires up to 10 HP; from electrical generation to pumping water, with the right connection to the PTO. It also meets or exceeds the core requirements that I laid out at the beginning. This is not to say that there might not be other machines that would also work, but if you are starting from scratch like most of us, then this is a good objective solution.
Related info:

JWR Adds: 
From the standpoint of a small acreage survival retreat, a walk-behind tiller/tractor makes a lot of sense. WTSHTF, fuel will be at a premium, so it is logical to get something that will give you maximum useful work with minimum fuel consumption. And as Fanderal mentioned, they will also minimize tractor rollover accidents. This is especially important at a retreat with a lot of newbies. (Just because you are accustomed to thinking "safety first" at all times doesn't mean that your recently-transplanted Big City friends and cousins will be!) 

If you need to cultivate significantly larger acreage, then a full-size tractor makes sense, but only of course with significantly more training and more voluminous fuel storage.  BTW, the new "crawler" (rubber tracked) tractors have a lower center of gravity that traditional wheeled tractors and hence are much less prone to rollovers.

I used a gas engine Troy-Bilt Horse tiller for several years and found it very reliable. The BCS products are made in Milan, Italy. At a list price of $3,799, these are not cheap.  But if you go with the principle of "buying something sturdy and reliable once, versus buying something flimsy, multiple times", then this sort of purchase makes sense. To get the most for your money, shop around for a slightly used, diesel-powered unit.

One other consideration: Tractors are noisy and can be heard from a long distance. Wear hearing protection whenever operator a tractor or tiller.  In a post-TEOTWAWKI survival situation, this may mean one individual wearing earmuffs operating the tractor, and another individual that is concealed 50 to 100 yards away, on dedicated security duty.  (Otherwise, operating noisy equipment like a tractor or chainsaw might be a noisy invitation to get bushwhacked.)

Here are some additional useful URLs:

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I think the pneumovax is a good idea. However, there are simply no data to support your statement that "pneumonia co-infections are the biggest killer associated with the Asian Avian flu." Whether even a single victim of the current H5N1 avian flu in Asia has even developed pneumococcal pneumonia has not been reported. I doubt it. These people appear to be dying too quickly for that to be the problem. I think they are simply dying from viral pneumonia.

In 1918-1919 many flu victims died within 24-48 hours of becoming febrile. Those deaths certainly had nothing to do with pneumococcal pneumonia.

That being said, in ordinary flu epidemics, old and debilitated people do develop secondary bacterial pneumonia after their systems are further weakened by viral pneumonia with the flu. In many cases, these secondary pneumonias are caused by the pneumococcus.
So there is undoubtedly some utility in the pneumococcal vaccine. Remember, it only protects against 23 varieties of a single microorganism, the pneumococcus. As you can gather from its name, though, the pneumococcus is the poster child of bacterial pneumonia, and it certainly can and does kill.

Whether or not there will be a worldwide pandemic of H5N1 avian flu depends only on the virus -- if it has become or will become easily transmissible from human to human, there will be a pandemic, because it is antigenically novel and nobody has much if any immunity to it.

In the final analysis, the scope of the pandemic also depends only on the virus -- on its attack rate and case fatality rate. The attack rate means how many people in a population become infected --105 -- 25% -- 50% -- and the case fatality rate means how many of those people die. An attack rate of about 25% appears likely for a true flu pandemic. Currently the case fatality rate in Asia appears to be about 50%, but I think that is wildly over-estimated, since only the dead and dying are being counted, and there may be many milder cases that are going undiagnosed and unreported. A case-fatality rate of 0.5% to 1% would be typical of a bad flu, and a case fatality rate of 2% or 3% was usual in most communities in 1918-1919. Anything more than that, even 5%, would be devastating. Remember that some isolated communities were more susceptible, and wiped out, in 1918-1919. All the best, - "Dr. Buckaroo Banzai"

JWR Replies: Your point is well taken, Buckaroo. When I saw references to "pneumonia co-infections" I mistakenly assumed that they were mostly pneumococcal pneumonia infections. So I went back and did some more reading. I was mistaken.  Most of the pneumonia deaths were indeed due to H5N1 viral pneumonia--which of course Pneumovax 23 won't prevent.  But I'm glad to hear that you agree that it is a good thing to get a Pneumovax 23 inoculation, nonetheless.

Dear Mr. Rawles:
Look forward to your blog everyday - keep up the great work! A question and suggestion for an article, from the point of view of those who must have a good bug-out plan....1. Got a source for a mechanical (as opposed to electronic) power out alarm? Under many scenarios the first warning of a Schumer / fan interface will be the power out (or confirmation that TS is REALLY HTF). Electronics are vulnerable to EMP, but a mechanical alarm could give you hours head start of TSHTF....2. Bug out vehicle. The first thing I thought after seeing the jam on the freeways out of Houston was - gee, a motorcycle could sure come in handy - less fuel needed, weave around stranded cars, drive on the grass or cross-country around roadblocks, etc., etc. Seriously looking at the Rokon TWO- wheel drive all-terrain motorbike as a BOV.  See: www.rokon.com
1. A motorcycle can weave around stranded cars, drive on the grass or cross-country around roadblocks, etc., etc.
2. In a Rokon, BOTH FRONT & BACK wheels get power - can go rugged places no other ATV or motorcycle can
3. can carry 1,000 lbs. and tow a trailer up to 3,000 lbs.!
4. Multi-purpose - a mini-tractor in power and accessories - many agricultural implements such as:
* Disc Harrow
* Log Skidder
* Moldboard Plow
* Lawn Mower
* Broadcast Spreader
* Power Take-Off Kit
* Agri-Sprayer,
5. 5 to 6 hours on one tank, plus alternate fuel storage in the hollow wheels (if wheels not used for gas, can float the bike to ford a river!)
6. extremely rugged, high ground clearance, fat wheels for traction, etc., etc.
--Less cargo capacity vs. a car or truck
-- Less protection for occupants versus a car or truck
-- Max 40 mph.
--"Ignition Electronic Magneto" in the engine - potential EMP problem?
How vulnerable would you rate this vehicle to EMP?
http://www.kohlerengines.com/common/resources/tp_2503_a.pdf  - "N." in Texas -

PS. I have no affiliation to Rokon, financial or otherwise, other than that I am a potential customer

JWR Replies: Your letter ties in nicely with today's article about tiller/tractors. "Sturdy, slow and low tech" maybe the order of the day, come TEOTWAWKI.

RE:  ...Got a source for a mechanical (as opposed to electronic) power out alarm?  That should be fairly easy to construct. These are probably already commercially made, but if there aren't;  Imagine a relay, (powered from AC to DC adapter) that is in the normally open position when current is available. When the AC power goes out, the relay trips to the closed position and activates a battery powered alarm--something piercing like a Mallory Sonalert. Alternatively, it could even trip something low tech like an old fashioned spring-powered alarm clock bell.

Hi Jim,
Thanks for your excellent site. I read it every day but Sunday and enjoy most every article. However, while I believe it is important to be as prepared as possible for pandemics and every other kind of emergency, I'm convinced that the Avian "Bird" flu is contrived and a needless scare. Bill Sardi, on his excellent website, has numerous excellent articles, all well researched and documented, showing that this crisis is hysteria being fanned by government authorities (http://www.knowledgeofhealth.com/report.asp?story=Bird%20Flu%20Hysteria%20Fanned%20By%20Inaccurate%20News%20Reports.). I heartily recommend this site to all your readers. - G.M. in North Carolina

JWR Replies: There may be some exaggeration and hyperbole, but I do believe that the A.A. flu threat is real. Don't count on on anyone in government saving the day.  Make plans to provide for yourself. Make plans to hunker down in self-quarantine for an extended period, preferably in a lightly populated farming region.

"You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass." - Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto

Thursday, October 27, 2005

With all of the recent conjecture about the possibility of an Asian Avian flu pandemic, the subject of pneumonia inoculations has come up. (Because pneumonia co-infections are the biggest killer associated with the Asian Avian flu. Most of those cases are viral, but some could be pneumococcal.)  Merck makes a widely used pneumonia vaccination called Pneumovax 23.  It is administered intramuscularly before exposure to pneumococci (streptococcus pneumoniae), and reportedly only rarely has adverse reactions. It will not prevent viral pneumonia, but at least it is effective at preventing 23 strains of pneumococcal pneumonias. The threat of Asian Avian flu mutating into a strain that easily transmissible by humans constitutes a novel threat. In this particular instance, I have come to the conclusion that it is worthwhile to have everyone in my family vaccinated with Pneumovax. [But Jim is always a worst case scenario kinda guy! - The Memsahib.]  I predict that if a readily transmissible strain does break out into a pandemic that there will be a huge rush for the relatively few available doses of Pneumovax. Give it some serious thought and prayer. If you feel convicted to get your family vaccinated, do not hesitate. Do so while Pneumovax is still readily available.

There are starting to be some clear indicators that the U.S. housing market bubble has reached its apex, though there are some that disagree. The signs of irrational exuberance are all to apparent. Witness, for example, the mad bidding wars for Miami condominiums that are being pre-sold, long before the ground has been broken at the construction sites. 

The housing markets have already headed south in much of the rest of the English speaking world.(Prices are already dropping in Australia and England.) But not yet in the United States. Today's housing market is the embodiment of "The Greater Fool Theory", on steroids. One of my compadres said this is like watching the equivalent of the Dutch Tulip Mania, in modern times.

Will the bubble gradually and gently deflate, or will pop with a resounding bang?  I'm not certain, but I'm betting on the latter.  This will most likely happen in the Spring of Aught Six, when the expected annual home buying season fails to materialize. There will be a collective "Ah-hah", as some home sellers begin to drop their prices. Buyers will sense a soft market, so they start putting in "low ball" bids.  The sellers will then get panicky and drop their prices even more, to "be certain of a quick sale." This downward ratcheting may very well turn into a outright snowballing effect as everyone with a spec house realizes that the music has stopped and their are precious few chairs in the room. Economist Dr. Gary North sagely opines that it is currently a good time to be a renter. If you have a vacation home, a house that you rent out, or any houses that you've bought on speculation, I then I strongly recommend that you sell them, ASAP!  If the decline is as great as I anticipate--perhaps as much as 70% in the most overpriced regions--then it may take ten years for house prices to return to their 2005 levels.  If you are planning to move within the next four or five years, then you might consider selling your house to a property management and renting it back. This may sound crazy, but as early as next June you may be congratulating yourself for your foresight.

As I mentioned back in a post on August 20, 2005, the popular "Mr. Housing Bubble" T-shirt sums up the current situation nicely.

First of all, I want to say thank you for putting so much effort in to an active blog on this subject. I try to read daily, and I always play catch-up once a week. I know it takes a TON of work to keep something like this alive and post as much each day as you do, so again, thanks. I was moderately concerned for the first time reading your blog this past week in regards to the post on Gold and Silver Barter. In there you referred to the American public as having "been robbed". My concern is that this is one of the few places where survivalists get the bad rap of being crazy. I want to point out something: whether it's gold, a paper dollar, or a rock, the value of whatever item is determined by faith, not intrinsic value. Gold is only valuable to us because we decided that shiny stuff was so important that we were willing to trade long, hard days of work for a little bit of it. At one point in our nation's past we limited the currency in the market to be equal to the value of the gold the US Treasury has on hand - but there was a problem. By the 1950s, during our rebuilding of the country post-WWII, there was so much growth going on that we actually were outpacing the availability of gold in the market. We were slowly stifling our own economy because we could not produce more goods and services that there was physical gold in the market. Finally, common sense prevailed when we realized something: The American public did not need gold, they needed dollars. They can not use gold in the grocery, the feed store, or the mall. Dollars they can use. People have more faith in the dollar than they do in the ounce of gold. Let the economy grow! To imply that we have been fooled is to imply conspiracy and breeds distrust. We may differ here, but I believe that is completely possible to work within the system until there is no system. When there is no system, I will be beside the other readers here making the best of the barter system. Until then, I will happily use my U.S. Dollars to purchase those items, never once believing I have been duped. To summarize, whether it is gold, paper currency, diamond, or potato - the value of any item is what we're willing to trade in labor or tangibles to obtain it. The U.S. Dollar's value is not, and should not be based on our perceived value of gold, since gold has no value of its own other than what we assign it. Gather your junk silver and gold for WTSHTF, but don't believe in it more than the dollar. Oh, and don't worry about the feds coming to take away your gold - since we're not on the gold standard then they don't need it. - L.C.

JWR Replies: I really appreciate you taking the time to articulate your opinion because I'm sure that there are many other people that feel the same way. But I do beg to differ. We have been robbed. When the Federal government decreed that our 90% silver coins in circulation be replaced with essentially worthless copper tokens (worth perhaps 2% of what a silver is worth, in terms of their metals content) it was both a violation of the public trust and a violation of the Constitution. (Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution states, "No State shall make any Thing but Gold and Silver Coin a tender in payment of debt.") It is no wonder that the pre-1965 coinage vanished from circulation in less than two years after the switch. Gresham's Law is inescapable: "Bad money drives out good."

By law, a pre-1965 dollar was convertible into real silver coinage. In contrast, a post-1964 Federal Reserve Note (FRN) "dollar" is merely an non-convertible "I Owe You Nothing" certificate. Whenever I get handed handed FRNs, I convert most of them into tangibles as quickly as possible.  Someday, probably within the next ten years, there will be a dollar crisis.  At the far end of that crisis, I predict that the dollar will revert to close to its real value. (Essentially, nothing.)

And, re:  "...there was so much growth going on that we actually were outpacing the availability of gold in the market..."  That is hogwash invented by Keynesian economists. If the free market were allowed to exist, then we would have had a free-floating currency, still backed by gold and silver.  (The "bi-metallic" system.) A convertible, metals-backed currency acts as a natural check on the growth of government, not the economy. It is no coincidence that the Federal debt exploded after we went off the gold standard.  With an unbacked currency, there is no limit to a government spending like a drunken sailor.  (BTW: I mean no offense to drunken sailors. In my experience they act much more responsibly than governments.)

And, re: "...gold has no value of its own other than what we assign it."  You make it sound as if gold is just a pretty rock ("shiny stuff") that has arbitrarily been assigned a high value.  But gold's high value is due in part because of its unique intrinsic properties. Gold is the most malleable and ductile metal known; (a single ounce can be beaten into a sheet that is 300 square feet). Heat, moisture, oxygen, and most corrosive agents have very little chemical effect on gold. (Gold coins recovered from 3,000 year old shipwrecks come up from the bottom of the ocean looking bright and shiny.) Because of its high electrical conductivity and resistance to corrosion and other desirable combinations of physical and chemical properties, gold is an essential industrial metal. Since it is a good reflector of both infrared and visible light, it is used for the protective coatings on many artificial satellites.Gold coating enables biological material to be viewed under a scanning electron microscope.Gold alloys are used as a catalyst in organic chemistry, as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, cancer treatments, and restorative dentistry.The resistance to oxidation of gold has led to its widespread use as thin layers electroplated on the surface of electrical connectors to ensure a good connection. Gold performs critical functions in computers, communications equipment, spacecraft, jet aircraft engines, and a host of other products.
(Source of information for the preceding paragraph: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold )

"Are you going to tell the soldier to shoot the soccer mom trying to get her kids out of the city in her minivan?" - Ed Richards, a Louisiana State University law professor, on using the military to enforce quarantines, as quoted at GovExec.com

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I'm often asked how long the U.S. Military "Meal Ready to Eat" (MRE) rations can be stored. SurvivalBlog reader "Mr. Tango" (BTW, don't miss reading his fascinating profile) had a round of correspondence with the U.S. Army's Natick Laboratories in Massachusetts, on the potential storage life of MREs. The data that they sent him was surprising! Here is the gist of it:

Degrees, Fahrenheit Months of Storage (Years)
120 1 month
110 5 months
100 22 months (1.8 years)
90 55 months  (4.6 years)
80 76 months  (6.3 years)
70 100 months  (8.3 years)
60 130 months  (10.8 years) -- See Note 3, below

Note 1: Figures above are based on date of pack, rather than inspection date.

Note 2: MREs near the end of their shelf life are considered safe to eat if:
   A.) They are palatable to the taste.
   B.) They do not show any signs of spoilage (such as swelled pouches.)
   C.) They have been stored at moderate temperatures. (70 degrees F or below.)

Note 3: Not enough data has yet been collected on storage below 60 degrees F. However projections are that the 130 month figure will be extended.

Note 4: Time and temperature have a cumulative effect. For example: storage at 100 degrees F for 11 months and then moved to 70 degrees F, you would lose one half of the 70 F storage life.

Note 5: Avoid fluctuating temperatures in and out of freezing level.

Jim's Comments: As with other storage foods, heat kills the shelf life of MREs in a hurry. So if you keep some "just in case" MREs in the trunk of your car, be sure to rotate them frequently. (Make sure that it is those MREs that you use for your hikes or hunting/camping/backpacking trips. For any large quantities of MREs that you intend to keep more than a year, be sure to store them in the coolest part of your house. The same applies to all of your other storage foods. The differential in temperature between the top shelf and the bottom shelf in your pantry room can be considerable. Reserve those upper shelves for heat-insensitive items like bottled water, salt, and paper products!)

The above cited figures are for palatability, not nutritive value. You should plan to supplement with a good quality double encapsulated multi-vitamin (such as VitaVim brand), good quality B-complex tablets, and 500 MG Vitamin C tablets. Vitamins should be stored in a cool, dark place for best shelf life. (Many tablets are light sensitive.) I recommend rotating your multi-vitamins and Vitamin C every 24 months, and the Vitamin B every 18 months. Remember that most of the fat, carbohydrates, and protein will still be available in MREs, even after many years of storage, but the vitamins won't. Plan accordingly.

Because MREs and other emergency foods are relatively high in bulk and low in fiber, this could lead to digestive problems. Therefore, I also highly recommend storing a bulk fiber supplement such as Metamucil with each case of MREs. Don't overlook this precaution!

In summary, I consider MREs a good short term/tactical food. For more info, including equivalents made for the armed forces of other nations, see: http://www.mreinfo.com. They are ideal to keep in your "Get Out of Dodge" (G.O.O.D.) packs.  However, they are very expensive, per meal.  The majority of your storage food dollars should be spent on bulk storage foods. Most of those should be purchased be in #10 cans and 5 gallon food grade storage buckets. Bulk storage foods are available from a number of vendors including:

Freeze Dry Guy
JRH Enterprises
Ready Made Resources
Safe Castle
Survival Enterprises
Walton Seed.
Live Oak Farms
AlpineAire Foods
Best Prices Inc. Storable Foods of Texas

The food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG) is now used in an alarmingly wide variety of processed foods. MSG has a bad reputation for more than just inducing "Chinese food headache."  IMHO, it is nasty stuff and should be avoided.  But that is difficult these days because food processors hide it by applying umpteen clever nom de guerres.  These can include:

Autolyzed yeast,
Barley malt,
Calcium caseinate,
Carrageen or carrageenan,
Enzyme modified,
Natural flavoring,
Hydrolyzed oat flour,
Hydrolyzed protein,
Hydrolyzed vegetable,
Malt extract,
Natural flavors,
Plant protein extract or extracts,
Potassium glutamate,
Protein fortified,
Protein isolates,
Sodium caseinate,
Soy protein or soy protein isolates
Soy sauce,
Teriyaki sauce,
Textured protein,
Ultra pasteurized,
Whey protein,
Yeast extract,
Yeast food.

(Special thanks to the authors of  The Carbohydrate Addicts' Official FAQ on Monosodium Glutamate. See: http://www.carbohydrateaddicts.com/msg.html )

I don't go so far as to recommend that you go on a MSG "witch hunt" in your pantry.  Rather, just be more aware and look at labels carefully whenever you are re-stocking.

This past Thursday thru Saturday was spent by me and a like minded, survival oriented friend in the mountains doing a cold weather shakedown. We headed up to the mountains, and did some primitive camping out in the middle of Bigfoot country at about 3,500 feet. This was a well scouted area, and I had found that nobody in at least the last year had been in the area but me. One of the items that we "shook-down" was my Wiggy's Hunter. When I opened the box that it came in, I could see right off that it appeared to be one of the best put together products I had seen in a long time. It just seemed to shout "QUAILITY!" It is a 0 degree bag, so I knew it should have no problems with 20 degree nighttime temps that we expected. (And from what I've heard it probably would have little problem with temps below 0 degrees.) The temps did indeed get down into the 20s, but I slept very warm and comfortable in my Wiggy's bag. I just wished it would have gotten even colder, to give it a real test. But I feel that considering how warm I slept this time, as opposed to just about freezing to death with my old bag, (in temps that were even warmer) that the Wiggy's Hunter will not let me down even to temps below zero. Also the [compression] stuff sack (that for an extra 20 FRNs comes with it) is really nice, and worth every penny. Thanks for turning me and no doubt many others on to Wiggy's via your book Patriots, and the ad that now runs on your site. Also I must highly recommend expedition weight polypropylene (PolyPro) Long Johns. They really made sitting around the campfire after the sun went down a pleasure. Sincerely, - Gung-Ho

A reader alerted me that the manufacturer of Gamma Seal Lids (those nifty screw top lids that fit on standard 3 to 7 gallon food storage buckets) are now available directly from the manufacturer at very reasonable prices if bought in quantity.  See: http://www.gammaseals.com.


In a recent phone conversation, the gent who was the basis for the "Roger Dunlap" character in my novel Patriots mentioned: "In inflation-adjusted dollars, gold's $850+ per ounce peak back in 1979 would be the equivalent of about $1,550 per ounce today."  Despite the price increases since 2001, gold is still dirt cheap. He recommends taking advantage of the still low price and stocking up before it zooms up past $500 per ounce.  And silver, he said, is "an even better buy.  Gold may double or triple in the next two years. But silver is likely go way up--five or ten times its current price!"  Both he and I strongly recommend: Buy silver! To make it a real survival asset, buy physical silver--not mining stocks--and take personal possession. Keep it at home, well hidden.  (Get creative and construct yourself a hidden wall cache.) Silver in a vault under the Paradeplatz in Zurich will do you no good when you need it to barter for groceries.  Ditto for silver or gold in a safe deposit box at your local bank. In the event of a monetary crisis you can count on bank "holidays." And, if and when the banks do re-open, you can expect a government busybody with a clipboard to be standing there when you access your deposit box.


See www.freebuck.com  for an inflation calculator that will help you appreciate inflation's long term effects.


Dr. Geri Guidetti of The Ark Institute recommends the book Country Wisdom & Know-How: A Practical Guide to Living off the Land (By the editors of Storey Publishing's Country Wisdom Bulletins.)  A copy of this book should be on your bookshelf, right next to your copy of  Carla Emery's Encyclopedia of Country Living.  See:  http://www.arkinstitute.com/bookstore.htm

"A pandemic is going to be a catastrophic nightmare. What we're going to be doing is trying to make it less of a nightmare." - Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, on preparations for a possible bird-flu pandemic, as recently quoted in GovExec.com.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I encourage you to continue to spread the news about SurvivalBlog. Our readership is growing fast, but there are still millions out there with web access who have never heard of it. A brief e-mail to your like-minded friends or mention of SurvivalBlog when calling in to talk radio shows would be greatly appreciated! Every friend that you help motivate to get prepared represents one less person that you'll find sheepishly begging on your doorstep, come TEOTWAWKI+1. Instead of being part of the problem, they'll be part of the solution.

Here at the Rawles Ranch the chicken-loving Memsahib couldn't help but be dismayed when her DH suggested the immediate sale of her sizable flock of terribly cute and tame chickens.  So off to the internet in search of answers...

Wild birds can be the carriers of Avian Flu to domestic chickens and turkeys.  Bird flu can be spread from country to country by migratory birds.  Waterfowl can carry avian flu without clinical signs of infection. With that said, how can any government in the world keep the Avian Flu from reaching their shores? To prevent Avian Flu infecting your home poultry flock, your fowl must be protected from coming into contact with the saliva, respiratory secretions and feces of wild birds.  Furthermore you must prevent wild bird saliva, secretions, and feces from contaminating the food and water of your poultry flock, or contaminating your poultry equipment. This means here at the Rawles Ranch, letting the chickens have free range is a thing of the past. We have to redo our chicken housing too.  First, the poultry wire will be replaced with much smaller mesh so that small wild birds can't enter the pens. Next, all parts of the pens will have solid tops so that if wild birds do perch on the top their feces cannot drop into the pen.   

It appears that all humans who contracted Avian Flu had direct contact with live birds.  Transmission occurs when human breathe in droplets of secretions or dried feces of infected birds.  There is no evidence that suggests the virus is transmitted by consuming poultry products.  Reducing your exposure to the birds' secretions make sense.  How about nest boxes with doors to the outside so that you can collect eggs without entering the coop?  How about food hoppers and waterers that can be filled from outside the coop?  (But make sure they are covered and that wild birds can't contaminate them.)  What about keeping the chickens in raised pens and letting their feces drop below into bins with earthworms to compost it ? 

To be frank, not being able to let my chickens free range spoils it for me. I built my flock up to about 30 laying hens, so that I would have plenty of eggs to share. The cost of the extra feed was offset by their ability to free range for grasshoppers and other chicken treats in the pasture.  But if all of the feed has to be store bought, then the feed costs really start adding up in a hurry, not to mention taking up storage space!  So in the end it seems more logical to cut the flock waaaay back to just enough laying hens to provided eggs for family use and to put up more storage food for people instead of chickens.  That's too bad, because I really enjoy the pastoral picture of my contented chicken catching bugs in the barnyard.

This question causes a lot of confusion for people who are new to survivalist movement. The mass-media has always portrayed people in the survivalist movement as paranoid nuts. Either they show us as racist killers waiting for the day when the ‘mud-people’ can be put in their place, or religious freaks praying for the end of the world, or cold-war nut cases who think the Russians are coming to steal their women and rape their cattle. In truth, the run-of-the-mill survivalist got his start as an average person with an average job who simply looked around and didn’t like what he saw.
Survivalists are just people who know that civilization is millions of people we don’t know, getting up every day and going to work at jobs we never knew existed. If a large portion of those people cannot do their jobs, you and I will not receive the benefit of their work and we, in turn, will not be able to do our jobs and therefore others will not receive the goods or services that we provide. Pretty soon all that you, or anybody else, will have are those things that you can provide for yourself, and how much is that?
Think about that for a moment, how many times in your life have you been faced with a situation where the normal mechanisms of civilized society--things like electricity, water, heat, shelter, food distribution, transportation, etc.--have been unavailable to you? Maybe it was a snowstorm that knocked out power, or a water main break in your neighborhood, or the aftermath of a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake. Most people have experienced some kind of failure for at least a few hours. Well imagine a situation where these things are gone for months, or years, perhaps even the rest of your life. Survivalists, seeing the teetering economy of the 1970s, the threat of nuclear warfare and all the other threats to our civilization, realized that they might soon be faced with just such a situation and acted to protect their lives and families.
The problem was that in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a lot of people, both in the media and in government, began to worry that survivalism was becoming too popular. You see, people who are self-sufficient make much of the government irrelevant, at least in regards to their own lives. A person who has the ability to supply his or her own basic needs, like food, water, shelter, etc. has no need to demand that the government “do something” for them. The government, on the other hand, needs people to require its services. Let’s face it, if nobody needs disaster relief, why should the government keep FEMA around? If everybody took care of their own retirement needs, where would Social Security be? Welfare, job training, food stamps, Medicare, and a hundred other programs are justified by the helplessness of many people in the face of adversity, therefore, if we are not helpless these programs would disappear (along with the taxes needed to fund them). The media, being overwhelmingly in support of such programs, also saw the danger posed by people asserting their independence.
So the media sought out the fringe element within the survivalist movement. Story after story showed the racists, the religious fanatics, the nuts who said the government was controlled by little gray aliens, and the guys who were just flatly incoherent on the subject. After years of such stories blanketing the broadcast and print media, few people wanted to be connected with the term survivalist, except for the aforementioned nuts. So the visible movement faded away. People like me didn’t stop being survivalists, we just stopped calling ourselves that.
In the early 1990s, there was a brief resurgence in the movement, only this time it was the so-called Militias who assumed the mantel, and their emphasis was not on surviving the collapse of civilization, but rather on preparing to fight what they saw as a government out of control. Instead of stockpiling food and medicine, they stockpiled guns and ammunition. Instead of wanting to retreat from danger, the militias wanted to raise the bloody flag of revolution, or at least that is what we were told. Of course the similarities between the two movements were more apparent than real, but the media once again latched on and wouldn’t let go. The Oklahoma City bombing knocked back the militia movement to a great extent, and the survivalist label was even less appropriate when applied to many of the remnants.
Then we come to 9/11 and the Anthrax attacks. In hours, people who had never before considered survivalist preparations were burning up their credit cards buying gas masks, prepared food, bottled water, firearms, and anything else that joyous salesclerks could think of. Stockbrokers were putting bug-out-bags in their Porsches, CEOs were stocking vacation homes with freeze-dried food, and collage professors were picking out shotguns and learning all about the restrictions that gun owners had complained about for years. Why? Because, like most Americans, they had always assumed that America was invulnerable. The assumption was that the CIA, the FBI, the State Department, the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force would always prevent any attack on the U.S. Suddenly they were shown just how disastrously incorrect that idea was.
The Twin Towers were more that just buildings, they were symbols of what we believed America was. They were American power stretching far above the world and overshadowing everyone else. They were American science and technology pointing toward the sky and reaching for the stars. They were America’s gateways, like the pillars of some great temple, leading to the mightiest nation on earth. And in the space of hours, they were nothing more than dust and rubble and twisted debris. No less symbolic was the destruction we saw at the Pentagon. Its architecture suggesting a mighty fortress, it has, since its construction in the Second World War, become the symbol of American military might. Seeing that building, belching smoke, with debris scattered before it, seeing the bodies of dead and wounded American service men and women being carried away. Watching, while part of America’s foremost citadel crumbled before us, said something to America, it said that there is no one to defend us.
Perhaps the most psychologically damaging events were the Anthrax letters. We might gripe and moan about the postal service, we might make fun of the mailman, but we still see those words: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Many of us remember when the coming of the mailman was a special event, and opening the mailbox was like a birthday that came six days a week, because you never knew what kind of surprise would be inside. Sure, it lost part of its glow when we discovered that most of what he brought was bills and junk, but deep inside of us we were still that little kid who bounced up and down in front of the window when we saw that gray uniform coming down the street. Then, to our horror we saw that uniform as a threat, a gray specter that might be bearing a cargo of powdered death to our door.
On that day Survivalism was reborn, most won’t call it that, the legacy of the media image still lingers, but that is what it is. Too many of our symbols have been trashed for us to ignore the truth anymore. We are vulnerable to any number of attacks and no government can protect us. Oh sure the Feds might bust 99 out of 100 of the bad guys, but when the one that gets away is packin’ a nuke or a few pounds of  The Plague, how much difference does it make? Let us not be so eager to lay those Cold War fears to rest either. Russia is still pointing a few thousand nuclear weapons at us, while the Peoples Republic of China is building more nukes, more missiles, more weapons period, and China has never been shy about going to war in her own interests. Adding in the regional powers like Iran and North Korea, both of whom have chemical weapons, probably biological weapons, and are working day and night on nuclear weapons as well as the means to deliver them, not only against their neighbors but anywhere in the world, just how much less likely is such an attack today, as compared to twenty years ago?
Many people have begun to understand they are now threatened, not merely in the abstract, but on a very personal level. Now they feel the need to take command of their lives. They see now that freedom means being responsible for their lives, and the lives of their children. The day when they could afford to assume that someone else would make sure that they were safe and protected are gone. The idea that they may find themselves stranded somewhere, alone, hungry, in need of water, food, and shelter is no longer inconceivable. Looking into the dust of the Trade Center towers has finally given them a frame of reference for the end of the system which has kept them safe their whole lives, and they now understand that, in the end, only they can help themselves, and that is the essence of Survivalism.
You WILL survive the end of the world... Probably...
This is the dirty little secret that your parents (and government) never told you. In all but a very few of the scenarios for an end-of-civilization disaster, the majority of the human race will survive the first twenty-four hours. If, for instance, a medium-sized asteroid were to hit the Pacific Ocean, it would probably kill a billion people the first day, but that would leave five billion of us alive. That is more than the population of the earth in 1970. So, unless you live on the west coast, or near an earthquake zone, or volcanically active area, you have pretty good odds of making it through that first day. The same goes for Nuclear War, caldera volcano explosion, socioeconomic collapse, or any of the other major disasters which could wipe out our civilization.
Once you realize that the odds of surviving that first day are actually stacked in your favor, you begin to realize that the event itself is less critical to your survival than the loss of essential services which will follow the disaster. So the question of whether or not you and your loved ones will live to see old-age depends on your ability to provide the essentials of life for yourselves. This goes double for the less earth-shattering disasters which people face on a much more frequent basis, things like earthquakes, tornados, tsunami, flood, famine, epidemic, war, riot, and blizzard. Because if you look at the statistics of past disasters you find that more people end up homeless and destitute than dead, and that many of the people who do die do so because they were unable to help themselves after the event.
Now you might say, “If something bad were to happen, somebody will be there to help me. The government, the Red Cross, or somebody, won’t they?” The answer is a definite maybe, and that is the problem. In the event of a local or regional disaster like a earthquake or hurricane, the usual mechanisms of disaster-relief will undoubtedly be available, but when? How long will it be before someone comes along to provide you and your family with food and water? One day? Two? Ten? Longer? Do you really want to sit quietly, waiting for someone else to provide for you?
We in the west, especially in America, have become used to the idea that someone will always be there for us. For too long we have sat in front of the television and watched while others have rushed to aid the victims of disaster. We have reached a point where most people think that they can ignore the possibility of disaster because the idea of disaster-relief has become a law of nature to their minds. The problem is that our ability to render aid to the victims is limited. We have seen our resources stretched to the limit before both in the case of the Northridge earthquake and hurricane Andrew our disaster relief systems were strained to the limit. Reports of people waiting days for help were not uncommon.
If a truly huge disaster were to strike, say the Yellowstone caldera volcano exploding, FEMA and the Red Cross would be swamped, and then where will you be? Look at the people of New Orleans, did help reach them in time? Was the help they received enough?


This is THE question that every survivalist has asked and been asked more that any other, and for most it is the hardest one to answer. The question usually goes something like this: “Why would you want to survive when everyone you know is dead?” Or perhaps, “What is the point of living after everything has been destroyed?”

Boy if I had a nickel... The problem with this question is not what it asks, but rather what it says about the questioner. I mean, look at what these questions really mean, life after some cataclysm will be really tough and you won’t have people to help you, so why not just die and get it over with?
For myself, I could never internalize this kind of question. I thought it went without saying that one should want to live, despite whatever hardships or difficulties we may face in life. To say otherwise is to say that we do not deserve to live now, much less after our society collapses. Hell, why should we want to live in the face of any adversity? Would it not simply be easier to die than to face the slings and arrows that life throws our way? Why go on at all, when death is so much easier? The idea that I should simply decide to pack it in because I might not have the fruits of civilization at my fingertips seems as ridiculous as blowing my brains out over a hangnail.
The answer to ‘Why?’ is very simple: “Because I’m worth it!” I am worthy of life! If the world must be rebuilt, then no better man exists to carry out that task than myself! Sound egotistical? So what? I am not a man to grovel, and beg the world’s forgiveness for living. Neither should you.
In our society, too many people have succumbed to the idea that we must apologize for what we have and who we are. The idea that being raised as a child of western civilization is some form of crime, that our existence is an affront to the rest of humanity, and that only by debasing ourselves and giving up what he have for the “Less Fortunate” can we atone for the transgression of existing. Bunk! The conditions of my birth were beyond my control, thus they are no sin of mine. The actions of my ancestors were none of my doing, thus they place no burden on me (beyond ensuring that I don’t commit the same injustices myself). The condition of the world was not brought about by me, so why should I be asked to correct it? My life is what I control, and while I do not seek it injure anyone by my actions, no man may ask that I ease his burdens by assuming them. Forget the guilt they hand you my friend, it is not yours. Forget the things that others define you by, their standards are unworthy of you.
You must learn to define yourself according to your own standards of value, not the shoddy standards of others. Look at the world we live in, this is the world the people who will revile you have made. Is this the world you want? Is this a world you want your children to live in? Is this the image of what you will seek to rebuild, if rebuild you must? You must decide who and what you are, to do otherwise is to be nothing but a slave to the person who you allow to define you.
You must decide what your life is going to be about, and then you must act to bring that purpose to fruition. You must do that which you know to be right and you must reject what you know to be wrong. When you have made your decision, when you act to enforce that decision, when you discover who and what you are, then you will truly be free, and only a free man is worthy to live, instead of simply existing.
A human being is unique in all the known universe (at least for the moment), as we are the only creatures that exist in the future. Only we can conceive of the world as it will be tomorrow, or centuries after our death. No other animal plans for a time beyond the moment, this moment, only man can look beyond the eternal now. What do you look for? Do you look for a day when you will walk on the face of Mars and stare at a sky no man has ever seen? Do you work for a day when your children or your children’s children will fly among the stars? I do.
Survivalism is a path, a way of life that leads to our future. What will your future be? Will it be a future where you drift aimlessly, moving from this moment to that, praying that nothing happens? Will you live your life, hoping that God and the government will keep the world at bay, ensuring that you will have all that you need in life? I won’t.
Many people accuse me of wishing for death and destruction, of expecting only doom and gloom. Well my friends, they could not be more wrong. I am the one who carries in his heart the hope of the world. I am one who look’s at the future with optimism, because I know that, come what may, I WILL survive. I WILL carry on, I WILL ensure the survival of those I care for. I can do no less, because my love of the world and my family demands no less, what about yours?
Our society is not simply dying, it is already dead. The motor of our world has stopped and the movement we see is nothing more than momentum. Soon, one of two things will happen, we will either build a new motor, we will find a new purpose and begin a new journey towards the future, or our wheels will finally stop. Whichever happens, the future will not be decided by the looters or the animals in human shape, it will be decided by the human beings. Whether the rebuilding of our world is a physical reconstruction in the rubble of the past, or a reconstruction of the spirit which carved nations from the wilderness, it is you who must do it. When you make a commitment to survivalism, you are not giving in to doom and gloom, you are refusing to do so. The fools who spend their days trying to ignore the passage of time, who waste their days marking time at a job they hate, wasting time in pursuit of “Entertainment,” or escape reality with chemicals, they are the ones who hate life, not you. The essence of life is to experience it, not to ignore it. The essence of survival is to LIVE, not just to exist. The survivalist strives to create and maintain his or her life, and the lives of their children at the level of civilized human beings, not in the moment to moment existence of animals.
The popular stories of a post-apocalyptic world show the brutal human animals, raping and pillaging those weaker than they, and there may be an element of truth in this. Good people are less fit to live in a world ruled by brute force. Not because of a lack of intelligence or know-how, but simply because good people have no need to take by violence, that which they may gain by work and trade. The stupid, the criminal, the brutes of the world have nothing to trade, no work to perform, they have nothing but their strength. The survivalist must also find strength, strength of mind, strength of character, and strength of will. The human animals are dangerous, but so are bears, or mountain lions, but none is as dangerous as a trained human mind.
You, who are reading this, who simply wish to provide for yourself and your family, you are worthy of life. You are a person fit to help rebuild the world, and to make the new one better than the old. You are HUMAN, and I know of no greater creature in all the universe. Now you simply need to convince yourself of it. You need to know, not feel, not wish, not hope or believe, but know that this is true. You are better than the animals who threaten us all, and who seek to live at our expense, you are worth more than all of them put together. Because you can help to put the world back together, while all they can do is destroy the work of their betters.

Hi Jim,
I have been a big fan of yours for several years since I read your book [Patriots]! I was very excited to find your blog (via Claire Wolfe's blog) and have been reading it and recommending it since day four.

My husband and I have been busy socking money away into retirement accounts to prepare for the future but after listening to your interview with Geri Guidetti we decided to take the money we were putting away in Roth IRAs and spend it instead on survival preparations. There are several reasons for this decision:

1) Roth IRA money is after tax money so you will have already paid tax on it.
2) Roth IRA earnings are supposedly non taxable when withdrawn but that law can be changed by Congress at any time.
3) Everything that we are buying would cost more in the future simply due to inflation or scarcity.

We are very fortunate to own my husband's grandparents' old homestead outside of Livingston, Montana. In the last year we have put in a modular (with a wood stove) and a well in preparation for our retirement. Now we have a year of storage food and a grain mill and enough medicines, vitamins, toothpaste, toilet paper, etc. to last us several years. We are living and working in Nevada (a non-income tax state) and buying most of our provisions in Montana (a non sales tax state), except for the foods, which we bought on our way through Idaho, at Walton Feeds.

The point I wanted to make is that if people are saving for their retirement in any traditional accounts: IRAs, 401(k)s, etc., it might be a source of money to instead put it into beans, bullets, and band-aids or as you have said "tangibles." At least Congress can't take those away from you by changing a law! Thanks for all you do. - Mrs. R. , Elko, Nevada

JWR Replies: I think that you have chosen a wise course of action. Getting away from any investment denominated in dollars will be a very good thing, since we are likely heading toward a full blown dollar crisis and devaluation in the near future. I'm a big believer in investing in tangibles. I do have an IRA, but since 1999 it has been a self-directed gold coin IRA with American Church Trust. The folks at Swiss America can help you set one up. Under some circumstances a 401(k) can be rolled over into an IRA. You might consider that.

By buying storage food now, you are: 1.) buying in bulk which means buying at the lowest possible price in today's market, 2.) beating eventual price increases, and 3.) protecting yourself from eventual scarcity. To borrow the modern parlance, food storage is a "win-win." The same principle applies to most other tangibles. Spoilage is not an issue if you buy foods that have been packaged for long term storage, if you keep it away from vermin, and if you rotate it religiously.

OBTW, be sure to pre-position the vast majority of your gear, storage food, and sundries at your Montana retreat, since you may only have one trip "outta Dodge." If the house is normally unoccupied and hence burglary is a concern, then one viable option is to store everything in a commercial storage space that is close to your retreat.

"A billion dollars isn't what it used to be." - Nelson Bunker Hunt

Monday, October 24, 2005

Today we feature another entry for the SurvivalBlog writing contest. The prize is a transferable four day course certificate, good for any course at Front Sight. Enter your non-fiction articles via e-mail by the end of November to be considered for the contest.

Let us review the basics of child rearing. Children are a gift from God and we are to bring them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. All preparedness means nothing if we have prepared our children for the eternal fires of hell. God, in His eternal wisdom and grace, providentially provided His son Jesus to restore us to a loving relationship with the Almighty. God provides covenantal blessings for those who obey Him and curses for those who don’t. With that being said it is imperative that all our worldly preparation be first and foremost spiritual because we are to store up that which is eternal and lasts forever rather than the temporary. Furthermore, the Bible is very clear as to our responsibility to provide for our own family which thus leads us into this discussion. I have thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Rawles's book Patriots and find it to be the most comprehensive book of its kind. I was blind to the fact I was not prepared for any small emergency that may occur. It shocked me into action. Whether it is an evening storm outage or the full blown worse case scenario I wasn’t ready. The following article is an attempt at providing an addendum to Patriots for those families with small children. We home school our five children ages 3 to 11 and found preparing for emergencies take on a whole new meaning when plans must take into account those who can’t account for themselves. The Patriots story fits a certain demographic and my family doesn’t fit that profile. So here are my thoughts and ideas on preparing a family with primary age children.

The Beginning
I truly believe that having the right mindset or belief system about preparedness is essential. We are not hoarding out of panic or fear but making a concerted effort to provide the necessities of daily living for an extended period of time. Discretion is necessary because two things occur during preparation. The first is possibly being socially ostracized by being labeled a survival whacko by neighbors. These people are harmless until a survival situation occurs and then they become problem number two-potential security risks. I believe all preparedness should be disguised in some way. For instance, all guns and equipment can be acquired for our camping and shooting hobbies or purchasing food in bulk can be “taking advantage of a good sale." Whatever you do just be creative in disguising all your actions especially with family or friends. Likewise, our mindset should be long-term focused because being prepared is a process, not an event. Preparedness begins with education of the entire family and not just the spouse who is driving the agenda. A family should cultivate an environment of learning that permeates the entire daily lives of its members. The more you educate yourself prior to purchases the farther your dollar will go with wise decisions and quality buying habits.

My education started with reading Patriots for the first time. I would recommend everyone do the same because it gives you a realistic idea of the effort required to get prepared. Once you make the decision to start you should take a realistic inventory of your skill set and knowledge. Be honest about how well you would do in a mild disruption, large-scale emergency and full-tilt TEOTWAWKI. Start your reading list with the idea that you will prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Start first with Beans, Bullets and Band-aids and in that order.
Beans refer to getting educated on how to grow, store and prepare food in a survival situation. This may at first seem a large burden on the parents but children of all ages can have a keen role in this area. Children love gardening and are good at planting and weeding. In fact, by the time I was 12 years old I was responsible for half of our garden which included beans, broccoli, strawberries, raspberries, onions, carrots and potatoes. Children are especially adept at picking crops without ruining their backs or getting stuck by thorns in the blackberry bush. Beware of “2 in the mouth and 1 in the bucket” blight of these two-legged creatures. It can be as costly as infiltration of a four-legged pest into your garden.
Turn off the TV! Or better yet, get rid of it altogether. The outdoors should be a constant classroom as you walk, talk, weed, plow and play. By being outside you have ample opportunity to teach across a broad spectrum of topics and curriculum. For example I have attempted to link activities with teachable topics for preparedness.

  • Gardening & Preserving = Planning/Agri-management, Geology, Hydrology, Botany, Construction, Irrigation, Anatomy (when muscles ache), Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Culinary Science, History and Horticulture, Oceanography/Atmospheric Science
  • Hunting & Hiking = Geography, Topography, Geophysics (magnetic fields), Zoology, Botany, Anatomy, Ballistics, Military Science, Culinary Science, Physical Education,
    Oceanography/Atmospheric Science, Geology, and Astronomy
  • Touch Football Game = Military Science, Physical Education, Anatomy, History

I think you get the idea. Even something as simple and mundane as football has value to prepare for a survival situation. The key is to be creative and make it fun for the kids. I play a game with my kids as we hike. We haven’t made the move to the country so we drive over to a natural area on the edge of suburban Spokane. Our game is called “Patrol” We hike in silence and in 5 yard intervals. Each kid takes a turn at Point leading the way up to a pre-determined destination and the others rotate bringing up the rear.
The really fun part is when I whisper “Danger Close!” or “Tango” we race to find concealment and the last one to get concealed well is tagged. When its time for a break we look for a rest spot that is concealed and yet provides good line of sight for security. I don’t want to traumatize them so the “bad guys” are the looters they saw on TV during Hurricane Katrina coverage. Even kids know a bad guy when they see one. Children love to learn and play games and if you can do both at once, Amen! Each teachable moment is a short lecture about life and the world we live in. You will train your children to improvise, adapt, and overcome life’s challenges. Educate yourself in all aspects of the preparedness mindset but don’t exclude the little ones. They are just as eager to learn as you and may actually retain more factoids than our aged brains.

Getting Out of Dodge
G.O.O.D. provides several unique hurdles when preparing for children. Instead of breaking up the topic into Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids I will discuss as an all encompassing endeavor. Depending on the age of your children preparedness has to take into account the child’s physiology from the start. Teenagers don’t have inherent problems as do tending to small pre-adolescent age groups. A teenager, for the most part, has stopped growing or is growing into adult sizes that make acquiring survival gear a bit easier.
Primary age children grow out of their clothes extremely fast and if a TEOTWAWKI scenario occurs you must store sizes to grow into. I guarantee during TEOTWAWKI Wal-Mart won’t be holding a clearance sale or Schumer Day sale on gear (Actually if anyone would be open for business it probably would be Wally World). I believe one can prepare in several ways for growing children and seasonal changes in weather. Once again a little education can go a long way.
Preparation should encompass a layered approach starting with a 1) G.O.O.D. Bag, 2) Rapid Deployment Bin and 3) Long-term Inventory. G.O.O.D. bag is a backpack loaded with all essentials that are pre-packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Mr. Rawles description in Patriot’s is a great place to start. The idea with children is to size down the weight since kids can’t carry at par and most likely won’t be carrying ammo and other weighty items. Also make sure the clothing is sized up one size. Kids can fit into something a bit larger but squeezing into something a size too small is misery. Once you bring the weight down look to exchange adult items for kid friendly items for comfort and entertainment. Add a couple of books and a deck of cards or a travel size game instead of ammo or firearms. Also have a spare set of clothing one size bigger to grow into.

Rapid Deployment Bins
The Rapid Deployment Bin is a supply prepared for rapid deployment where you will travel by vehicle and not on foot. For instance, if you had ample warning and were leaving home for a retreat location this would easily be picked up and hauled with other necessary items. We use square plastic bins with locking lids that conveniently stack and are transportable. One bin per kid and you can easily prepare several years of clothing for all weather extremes. Add two pairs of boots and two pair of snow boots and one child can be squared away for at least two years. Coveralls are a great way to fit one child for several growth spurts. Coveralls can fit even when their too big and can be grown into over time. One pair of light[weight] and one insulated can be stored easily to provide year-round protection. You may have realized the problem of keeping all eggs in one basket. If I were to loose one bin that child would be in a world of hurt. I am currently looking for some plastic half-barrels to store two clothing units per kid and hold two for each member of our household.

Long-Term Inventory
Long-term inventory at a retreat location would be similar to Rapid Inventory arrayed in comparison to the Patriots example of lockers. The supply of clothing and other necessities would be more in depth and take into consideration long-term growth in height and weight of children. It would also be wise to add some patches and Shoo-Goo into your sewing kit to add calendar life to BDUs and boots. Knees on pants and soles on boots can wear out faster than other articles. Repairing means some items can be handed down to smaller kids when outgrown by its owner. Once kids grow out of a size and you run out of kids to hand them down they will make great charity or barter items.

Purchasing and Storage
We have two methods for obtaining and storing clothing that saves time, money and storage space. My wife is warrior shopper which means she finds all the deals and never pays full price. We found a new pair of Sorrel winter boots in a youth size for only $3.00 at a local thrift store. The most intriguing part is that it was August when she bought them. Remember: Preparing is a process not an event. Start with a list of sizes and actual gear you need to outfit the family. Camo gear can be hard to come by but light brown and earth tones aren’t. Buy the earth tones and browns which can easily be dyed to some level of camouflage during bad times.

Thrift stores and garage sales are the only way to go. We also plan to buy a sewing machine and learn a few basics on manufacturing our own clothing. You can now buy polar fleece camouflage material in several patterns which can save a bundle compared to store bought outer gear. Be diligent with the yard sales because in our area the local Russian immigrant population hits the sales right as they open between 7 and 9 AM. We have found that they can take all the good stuff before you even get a chance.
A big recommendation for G.O.O.D. bag, Rapid Deployment Bins and Long-term retreat storage is the use of a vacuum sealer. You can seal a whole set of clothing in one pouch. It saves on G.O.O.D. bag space and bin space also. For an example, in a large bag I can fit 1 pair of BDUs, 3 t-shirts, 3 underwear, 5 socks and one set polypropylene and that is vacuum sealed into a space the size of a laptop computer. Planning ahead and have several sets all prepared and sealed allows for additional storage space. Label each bag with a marker for age and size information to make inventory easy and you are set to store for use, charity or barter. The sealer works great for dried food items also so this is a great purchase for beginning to get squared away. Shop online for the best deals or even check local “nickel” want ads.

I have a few quick thoughts on a cache that may be easier on the pocket book. If you are looking to cache some items you don’t have to wait until you have a big pile but you can cache in increments. Five gallon food grade buckets can be used as personal or individual caches. Restaurants throw these “buckets” away on a regular basis. Contact a local burger joint and ask them if you can have their pickle buckets when finished. Soak overnight in a little bleach water to remove the vinegar smell. Use a small plastic garbage bag to line the interior before placing items inside. If the restaurant destroys or cuts the lid you can purchase replacements at paint stores or nearest warehouse lumber store.
Placement of the buckets in the ground can be done individually as you prepare them. I recommend sealing the lid with duct tape and placing the bucket into black garbage bags before putting into the ground. Use the heavy duty contractor’s grade garbage bags; they cost a little more but are super heavy duty and will take 30+ years to decompose in the soil. Place your bucket into one bag and then inside a second bag for double layer protection. I prefer a long trench for my cache to make recovery as simple as possible. Once I find the first bucket I know where exactly the others are in a linear formation. You can save time and energy later by lining the trench and back-filling around the buckets with pea gravel up to 3 inches over the top. The last 12 inches should be normal top-soil or fill. There are several reasons to use pea gravel. First, it allows better water drainage over time so there is little chance of moisture compromising your cache. Second, rocks can be pushed into and break open the plastic containers that’s why irrigation, telecom and other utility pipe is installed with sand first and then backfilled with dirt. Third, pea gravel helps recovery of cache if done when conditions aren’t ideal. If you have to recover in the dark the pea gravel will contrast to top soil by sight and sound when digging. It also makes removal of buckets easier since they will just slide out and won’t have to be dug from compacted soil. It can also help if you have to dig with primitive tools or your hands.

Defense/Combat Training
I am a graduate of Front Sight Firearms Training School. I cannot stress enough the overall value of spending time at that facility. They took me from dangerous novice to Distinguished Graduate status in four days. I was ignorant of just how dangerous I was to myself and others. I had gone through a basic hunter’s Ed class at age 12. I have hunted many years in the woods of northeastern Washington chasing deer and in the blinds of the Pend Oreille River freezing my tail off for the occasional duck and goose. Being around guns all your life actually makes you complacent and more dangerous than a novice. Just because you’ve been around guns your whole life doesn’t mean you are safe. Once you have professional grade training you will be astonished at just how much you didn’t know. So before you go off and try to teach combat skills make sure you have time-tested education in this area. Even with my level of skill I am slowly introducing responsible gun handling to my kids. When we are out in the woods they can take toy guns or BB guns and they are to practice muzzle control. At home during dry practice we practice snapping in and breathing for sight/target control and trigger control. These elements come together when we take the Chipmunk .22 out to the range. The kids are already proficient with open sights at 25 yards.
Bottom line is you will always fall back to your highest level of training during a combat/life saving situation. If you can’t do the right thing without thinking about it you are likely a danger to yourself and others if the threat level goes black. Don’t wait to find out the hard way by causing injury or death negligently. Get the training-it’s worth it!

I hope I have provided some helpful hints and ideas. If you have a better thought or suggested improvement please share them in a follow up letter. I know I have come a long way but I am just getting started in this process of becoming prepared. It is comforting to know that God’s providence rules over all things. Preparedness must be in submission to His law or it is hoarding, which is sin. If you don’t know the difference go seek guidance from your pastor or church elder. There are blessings for those who keep His commandments and curses for those who don’t. We are not guaranteed an easy life or a life free from persecution or strife but His path will not lead you astray. God Bless and get started. - B.H. in Spokane

Jim, I think your estimations on the results of a pandemic are ... incomplete. Say the worst case scenario happens...say 1/3 of the population of the US dies. That is 100-million or so people, out of 300 million or so.We really don't know what segments of the population H5N1 will attack. In Asia, it's attacking the very young mostly but they're also the ones that have the most contact with the infected fowl. The 1918 Spanish Influenza killed mainly young to middle aged, very healthy people, but that was from secondary infection that couldn't be treated (today we have antibiotics that would work on the sequalae of the viral infection). So, we don't know which parts of the population will be most at risk.
The population of the United States reduced to 200 million would be a terrible tragedy. But to put it in perspective, the population of the United States was 200-million in 1965. Since 1965, we've gone to the moon, mapped the human genome, developed technology that I won' bother to repeat. However, life in 1965 wasn't exactly terrible, not like the 'dark ages' that bubonic plague kept Europe in.

Call me an optimist, but should the worst happen I think it would take a relatively short time (less than 50 years) before the economic growth of the US (in particular) regains it's former levels. Climbing a mountain the second time is always easier, since we already know the route. - "Flighter"

JWR Replies: Hmmmm... I thought that I had been intentionally optimistic in my estimate of the potential effects. Imagine a situation where people are panicky because of an outbreak of an easily transmissible flu strain in the United States--even in just one region. Who is going to continue to show up for work? Will the 18 wheelers continue to roll--restocking the grocery stores? (A situation exacerbated by the inevitable panic buying.) Will the fuel tankers still dock at American ports? Will supply trucks be allowed to cross Federally dictated quarantine lines? Will the coal trains continue to arrive at the power plants?

Our economy is a widely distributed web of interdependency. The supply chains are almost ridiculously long. The modern microwave convenience foods oven come immediately to mind. Take for example, a bag of Stouffer's Chicken/Vegetable Stir Fry: Where are each of ingredients grown or raised? (The following is mostly conjecture.) The wheat for the pasta (Kansas?), the Broccoli (California?), the Chicken (Arkansas?), the tomatoes (Chile?), the bell peppers (Texas?), the carrots (Alabama?), the parsley (Oregon?), the water chestnuts (China?) the white long grain rice (Louisiana?), the pineapple and sugar (Hawaii?), the molasses to combine with the sugar to make brown sugar (Tennessee?) the ginger (Japan?) the sesame oil and curry powder (India?), the salt (California?), the apple cider vinegar (Vermont?), the "yeast extract" (a pseudonym for MSG) (Taiwan?), the corn starch (Iowa?) Consider that each food and spice transits many states by truck or train or even across oceans in cargo containers before arriving at the Stouffer Corporation food processing plant in Solon, Ohio. There, they are cooked and flash frozen. OBTW, where is that plastic bag made? And where is the ink on the label made? Then those bags are boxed up in cardboard box that is made in a nearby Ohio town. But wait! The wood pulp that makes the paper for the box comes from trees felled in Washington and milled in Idaho. Then, through a different chain of supply-again transiting umpteen states--the the boxed bags of frozen entrees must be kept continuously frozen until it makes it to your local store freezer case. An optimist would call this a "modern miracle." As a ornery pessimist, I call it a disaster waiting to happen.

With these long chains of supply, I predict that it won't take much to collapse the whole works. Of course, we've never seen something of this magnitude happen to a modern technological society. Our entire society is geared toward driving down costs by choosing the absolute lowest cost components/ingredients, regardless of their place of origin, and then storing as few of them as possible. (The "kan ban" or "just in time" supply system--again to minimize costs.) In the 1930s, more than 20% of the population lived on family farms. Today, 2% of the population feeds the other 98%. And in the 1930s chains of supply were short--the vegetables in the grocery stores mostly came from nearby truck farms.

We have built ourselves a house of cards! Just pray that people keep coming to work out of economic necessity. I agree that the road back to economic recovery following a collapse could potentially be swift, given our level of technology. But if one of the key enabling infrastructures (grid power, telecommunications, or transportation) gets badly broken then our technological sophistication could turn out to be our Achilles' Heel.

"The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them."
- Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (Appointed by James Madison)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

I have been studying the implications of a possible Asian Avian Flu pandemic.  In a "worst case" scenario, what would be the long term effects on the economic infrastructure in the event of a 20%, 30%, or 40% de-population of the planet? The only historic parallel that comes immediately to mind is the "Black Death" plague pandemic in Europe. The resultant de-population caused massive labor shortages in subsequent decades. And that of course was in a non-technological and largely agrarian society. What happens to a highly technological, highly interdependent society with extremely long chains of supply?

What are the full implications, both at the societal level, and for each of us, living out in the boonies?  Most SurvivalBlog readers pre-positioned gear or live full time at our retreats.  OBTW, with a tip of the hat to The Mogambo Guru's outrageous acronyms, I call our retreat's storage room: "Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy." (JASBORR)

I recently put on my Prognostication Hat and considered the far reaching implications of a pandemic. With the help of the fine folks over at The Claire Files (our designated discussion forum for SurvivalBlog topics), I came up with a few conclusions. I'd appreciate your comments on factors that I might have overlooked.

Likely Effects: Just the fear of exposure will greatly change the way people interact. I predict that while most lower and middle class families will be forced by circumstances (most notably paycheck dependence and lack of savings) to continue their normal daily routines, upper class families will go into "cocooning mode" (self-quarantine) as much as possible. This effect may last well beyond the period when the pandemic is active in any particular region.

Here are some comments from readers of my pandemic discussion thread at The Claire Files:

"Merlin419" wrote: "The spread of such a disease would not be selective in the loss of population. Some skilled professions would be harder hit than others."

"Merlin419" also later added: "Knowing how to read plans is a plus for some of us. The main thing is to gather as much knowledge as possible. A simple on for your self would be easier to buy but if you want plans on hand check this one out; http://hbd.org/mtippin/woodmill.html  looking at things now while still available is one more small step to self survival."

"Bellis" wrote:... if I remember correctly the Black Death in the U.K. killed about one third of the population and led to a change from oversupply of labour to drastic shortages of skilled and unskilled workers.  This led to wage increases as might be expected.  However the employers were not happy, and national price and wage controls were put into place to try to keep wage inflation down.  When this failed restrictions on movement were tried to prevent workers moving to a better position.  None of these lasted long and there was a lot of 'black market' activity in labour - there are also several rags to riches tales from the period.
One other feature was that the more marginal areas of the country became abandoned after the plague died down as the survivors saw better opportunities for themselves and moved on.  Whole villages were deserted - any survivor of a modern plague may just see their neighbourhood die out anyway as the other survivors see a better life elsewhere.
As to the economy, we do indeed live in a much more specialised and mechanised economy than before, with much longer and more complicated supply and delivery chains, and much more centralised production.  This I think will cause major problems during and after any epidemic, and any heavily mechanised industry - whether it be food production, textiles, heavy industry etc could be affected... 
Most people today have specialised in one small part of a much larger manufacturing chain.  Losing any one of those links in the chain will stop the entire process until a new person can be found, assuming that a replacement can be trained at all.  And even if the machines can be kept working, they cannot work around problems like humans can - a skilled worker can take raw materials that are nearly right and do the job anyway, modern machinery has to have exactly the right materials, to very fine tolerances, at exactly the right time or else.  Modern manufacturing is extremely dependent upon things working just so - any disruption to any part of the chain can stop the entire process in its tracks.
Even worse... restarting local production, from what skills and tool base?  Most production is heavily centralised and the tooling and machinery industries geared up to supplying a few very large concerns.  Where are you going to get the new plant and machinery to set up a new flour mill for example, who even knows what one should look like?  How many people are actually skilled workers, and how many are really glorified machine managers - a generation or so ago most would at least have had some idea  or experience of hand tools / production methods, but today? Where do you find your miller, baker etc? God forbid this kind of thing ever happens... living through the epidemic will be bad enough, but the first decade or so afterwards would probably be worse..."

"Bear" wrote: "It's not hard to imagine a situation where enough key people go missing (die, leave, run away, etc..) that complex manufacturing and production systems fail. We could end up living with production systems more like late 19th or early 20th century simply because they are more flexible, if less efficient."

Definitely some FFTAGFFR there! I greatly appreciate their replies. Now, back to some of my own observations:

The biggest losers will be the airlines. Already hurting because of terrorism and more recently from the shock of fuel price increases, the fear of a pandemic may be "the last nail in the coffin" for many airlines.

The continuum of severity for a pandemic will be something like the following (from best case to worst case):

Best Case: Widespread Public Fear, but no significant loss of life.

1% to 5% Loss of Life (mostly overseas), Grid-up. A lengthy economic recession. Minor economic dislocation/readjustment

10% Loss of Life, Grid-up. Major economic dislocation, demographic shifts.

20% Loss of Life, Grid-up. Severe/recurring economic recessions or depressions. Major demographic shifts and involuntary relocation of population.

30% Loss of Life, Grid-down short term. Deep long term economic depression. Major social unrest.

Worst Case: 40% or More Loss of Life, Grid-down long term. Full Scale Economic Collapse. A Second Dark Age


JWR's Predicted Winners and Losers if Grid Up (Mild Pandemic):

Winners Losers
Small charter airlines Large airlines
Home-based businesses Public school attendance & school teachers
Telecommuters Public transportation
Storage food packagers and sellers Theaters
Security-related businesses (Alarm companies, Locksmiths) Church attendance
Mail order businesses Life insurance companies
Home-schooling and curricula suppliers Health insurance companies
DVD& CD mail order sales/rentals Any business dependent of face to face contact
Hand sanitizer manufacturers Traveling salesmen
Antibacterial soap manufacturers Pay phone and vending machine companies
Camping/survival gear manufacturers Gambling industry, casinos, slot machines makers
Electronic banking Large retail chain stores
Shopping/delivery services Sporting events/leagues/venues
Internet service providers Concert venues
Cellular phone companies Convention Centers/Convention Organizers/Promoters

JWR's Predicted Winners and Losers if Long Term, Grid Down, (Severe Pandemic):

Winners Losers
Small family farms Most businesses
Home-based businesses making practical products Most industries
Manual Laborers (due to long term labor shortages) Public schools (likely to never recover)
People with specialized hand craft skills Public transportation (likely to never recover)
People with specialized repair skills Airlines (likely to never recover)
Experts in 19th century technology Church attendance--may re-emerge as small home churches
Second hand stores Life insurance companies (likely to never recover)
Small scale welding and machining shops Health insurance companies
Auto, truck, and tractor mechanics Any large public venue (stadiums, concert halls, casinos, ...)

I'd appreciate your comments and suggestions via e-mail to expand on this topic.

This is one one the latest of the well-known Leatherman line of multipurpose folding tools. Think of it as a Leatherman on steroids. This model includes:

  • 2.5" knife
  • File
  • 2.5" serrated knife
  • 2.5" saw
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Can opener
  • 3 sizes of standard screwdrivers
  • Awl
  • Pliers (heavy duty semi-needle nose with two types of gripping surfaces)
  • Wire cutters
  • Lanyard ring
  • 9" standard and metric ruler

The sheath is stiff black-dyed leather with a metal snap closure. It slides onto a normal belt fairly easily and fits the knife well.

One of the best features of the Super Tool 200 is the locking blades. If any tool is rotated completely out it locks in position and will not flip back to a closed position until the lock release tab is pulled back. This makes it take a little longer to close, but it is worth keeping your fingers. The Super Tool measures 0.75" x 1.25" x 4.5" and weighs a whopping 9 ounces--nearly twice as much as the original Leatherman Tool. This is one of the few detractors, but the weight is to be expected from such a sturdy and versatile tool. Now that I am used to carrying, it I can run and hike without losing my balance. ;-)

Unless you do not like carrying a large or relatively heavy knife in a belt pouch, I think the Leatherman Super Tool 200 would be a good choice.This model is available from Ready Made Resources and several other vendors.

For two successive weekends, I was interviewed by Dr. Geri Guidetti of The Ark Institute on her shortwave/webcast radio show. The topic of both of these two hour interviews was family preparedness for a potential influenza pandemic. These interviews are available for free download from Republic Radio in a variety of audio streaming formats at: http://mp3.rbnlive.com/Geri05.html

Hi Jim,
I enjoy the blog very much! I have your advertisers in mind when looking to purchase. I read your answer about the Remington 7400/7600 models, what is your opinion of the 7600 Police model with the heavy barrel? Thank You, - Frank

JWR Replies: A heavy barrel 7600 would be slightly better, but they still are not made to military specifications.You can expect slightly better accuracy--since the barrel has more thermal mass--but the same functioning/chambering problems will be encountered during extended strings of rapid fire. Consider that for about the same price as a new Model 7600 Police, you can buy a slightly used FAL clone or L1A1 clone which will be just about unstoppable. See the FALs and L1A1s for sale at the FAL Files (Marketplace Forum) or at GunsAmerica.com.

Just thought your readers would like to know that for limited time we are willing to trade DVDs for junk silver (pre-1965 only). Say someone wants to receive three of our DVDs. We pay our shipping to them and they pay their [for the silver] shipping to us. We will allow in trade 6.24 times face value for these coins. So for example, for the equivalent of $49.95 for three DVDs, you would need to send:

83 silver dimes, or
34 silver quarters, or
16 half dollars, or
7 silver dollars

A good combo trade would be (pre-'65) 20 dimes, 8 quarters, 4 half dollars, and 2 silver dollars. Again, this works out to $49.95. The face value in coin is 8 dollars a retail value of 6.24 times face value. Of course you can trade for as many DVDs as you would like. Check the list of DVD titles at: http://www.buckshotscamp.com/Video-Home-Sales.htm- "Buckshot"

JWR Replies: I highly recommend Buckshot's videos. They are a "must" for anyone serious about preparedness, because trapping will be crucial for family provisioning, barter, and charity. I also recommend that people get in the habit of doing some of their business via barter. This may become a necessary skill in the near future.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

This story is fairly novel, and serves as food for thought and grounds for further research (FFTAGFFR.) If the CIA finds such technology appropriate for Third World living conditions, shouldn't we also, as individuals--for the event that the U.S. economy is somehow, someday plunged to that level? See: http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20051018/ts_csm/aplugandplay_1

Perhaps it is the sharp memory of Hurricane Katrina working on the collective psyche, but the mass media is finally starting to warm to the concept of greater self-sufficiency. Take, for example, this story that recently ran in Yahoo: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20051019/lf_nm/bizfeature_woodstoves_dc_1

I often have people ask me why I place an emphasis on pre-1899 firearms. Some go so far as to ask "What's the big deal about the privacy of pre-1899 antiques when I can still buy modern guns from newspaper ads with no paper trail?" My reply is that it is a big deal. Think this through, folks. No FFL is required to buy or sell antique guns across state lines. They are in the same legal category as a muzzle-loading replica. This is the last bastion of gun ownership and transfer privacy. Although your state and local laws may vary, any firearm with a frame or receiver that was actually made before Jan. 1, 1899 is legally "antique" and not considered a "firearm" under Federal law. That puts it entirely outside of Federal jurisdiction. Note that this refers to the actual date of manufacture of the receiver/frame, not just model year or patent date marked. (For example, only low serial number Winchester Model 1894 lever actions are actually antique.) 

Unlike "Curio and Relic" category modern guns, sporterizing, re-barreling, or re-chambering an antique gun does not change its legal status. Thus, you can buy pre-1899 Mauser sporters that have been converted to modern cartridges like .308 Winchester without having to go through the "FFL to FFL" hassle. (I have a BATF letter confirming this, that I send upon request. Just send me a SASE with "ATF Letter" written inside the flap if you'd like a free copy.) If you currently live in a state that has unregulated private party sales of used guns, then that is great. But don't expect that situation to last forever. Likewise, don't expect that we will never see the day when there is universal firearms registration in this country. That could happen. If and when it does occur, what will you do then? If you don't want to register your guns you will most likely end up greasing and burying them in watertight containers like they've done in Canada and down in Oz. Think further ahead: What will you then have available to use on a day to day basis for target practice, hunting, or self-defense? The answer: Pre-1899 guns. They have not been considered "firearms" since passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968.(The 1898 threshold was set with that legislation.) In the eyes of legislators, they are a insignificant "non-issue." Because they are so uncommon and because there are fewer of them with each passing year, they will presumably be exempt if we ever have to face nationwide gun registration.

Pre-1899 production guns now bring a 30% to 200% premium over identical condition guns that were made after 1898.  For example, in 2002, I sold a 1898-dated M1896 Swedish Mauser rifle  that was dated 1898 on an AuctionArms.com on-line auction for $770!  Based on market trends, I expect the pre-1899 premium to increase considerably in the next few years. (Perhaps even tripling or quadrupling in value if modern (post-1898) guns become subject to registration or additional transfer controls.) Many SurvivalBlog readers are commenting that they previously had no interest in "antique" guns, but they now want at least one because they are concerned about additional gun laws. For the time being at least, pre-1899 are completely EXEMPT from all federal laws.  Again, this would presumably mean that they would be exempt if there is ever nationwide gun registration.

I am regularly asked what I would consider a "basic battery" of pre-1899 guns for a typical shooter that wants to diversify and "hedge his bets" by buying some pre-1899s for his family. Here is what I'd recommend buying :

  • Two big bore S&W top break double action revolvers (.44-40 or .44 Russian, but get both in the same caliber.)
  • One Winchester Model 1897 in 12 gauge
  • One pre-1899 .22 Long Rifle.  (Winchester Model 1890 pump or Winchester Low Wall single shot rifles are ideal.)
  • Two Model 1893, 94, 95, or 96 Mauser bolt action rifles. (6.5 x 55, 7x57, or 8x57, but get both in the same caliber.) Buy a sporter unless you are a purist about originality or the ability to "fix bayonets!"

If you have a big budget, you should also consider investing in few additional pre-1899 Colts and Winchesters that are chambered for commonly available factory made ammunition.

And what about someone who is on a very tight budget?  I'd recommend a Spanish or Chilean Model 1893 or 1895 Mauser (7 x57), or a Turkish Model 1893 Mauser (8 x57.)  Both can be had for under $250 in original condition, or often for under $150 if sporterized. Most Iver Johnson .38 S&W top break revolvers are also still a relative bargain at $100 to $250 each.
Due to their scarcity and desirability, the rate of increase in the value of shootable cartridge pre-1899 guns is likely to accelerate.  Here are some examples: In 1997, .44-40 S&W double action top break revolvers were selling for $400 to $800.  They now sell for $900 to $2,000.   In 1997, .38 S&W double action top break revolvers were selling for $50 to $150.  They now sell for $200 to $800. In 1997, .44-40 Merwin Hulbert revolvers were selling for $300 to $1000.  They now sell for $900 to $4,000. Meanwhile, many pre-1899 Colt revolvers have been bid up to unaffordable--almost astronomical--prices. 

After  Nov. 30, 1998 the permanent Brady Law rules went into effect. On that date all sales of post-1898 guns--both long guns and handguns--came under the federal control of "national instant background checks." Subsequently there has been a much  bigger interest in guns that are Federally exempt and that can be bought via anonymous mail order or at gun shows with no "paper trail"!

For more details on pre-1899 guns, including an extensive list of serial number "breaks" (for determining which guns are pre-1899 and which are not) read my Pre-1899 Cartridge Guns FAQ

Quality pre-1899 guns are available from a number of reputable dealers including The Pre-1899 Specialist, Empire Arms, and The Arm Chair Gun Show (Jim Supica.)

While shotguns are great (my preference is a Mossberg 590 with bayonet lug), a rifle chambered for a centerfire cartridge is essential. Whether its something like a Ruger Mini-14 or 30 or a bolt action hunting rifle in .30-06 or .308. There's good reason why a used M1A is over $1,000, but you could get a 'Poor Man's M1A', a used Remington 7400 in 30-06 or 308 and a bunch of the aftermarket 10 rd mags. Remington even has a shorter model 7400 or 740 that's marked Carbine on the receiver. - Dave F. , People's Republic of N.Y.

JWR Replies: I agree that a.30 caliber centerfire a rifle is essential, both for hunting and self defense. Keep in mind, however, that civilian hunting semi-autos and pumps are not designed to withstand the sustained high rate of fire that might occur in a full scale post-TEOTWAWKI firefight. Their internal tolerances are so precisely machined that they are likely to bind up when the action gets hot. Also be aware that they are more tightly chambered than military arms.(Which have intentionally loose dimensions.) You cannot depend on something like a Remington 760 or 7600 to keep shooting reliably after 200 rounds of rapid fire. Nor can you expect them to keep shooting reliably with muddy or gritty cartridges. (As a test, with a Remington 740 or 760 series, try chambering some cartridges that have had their necks smeared with toothpaste. (DO NOT attempt to fire the rifle in this condition--this is only to demonstrate chambering limitations!) Now try the same with a FAL, HK, CETME, or M1A. Odds are that the bolt on the Remington will not go fully forward, whereas the bolt on a military arm usually will. A civilian pump action or semi-auto hunting rifle might suffice in a pinch, but not in an extended firefight! Plan your battery accordingly.

I just purchased ten Canadian silver dollars. The ones I bought were from 1990. They contain 1 ounce of 99.99 silver.They cost me $11 each including shipping. I bought them for making colloidal silver in bad times. They are the purest silver coins I have seen yet. - C.R.Z.

Mr. Rawles:
What do you think of silver “rounds.” That is, those ounces of silver sized like a silver dollar, but not minted as a negotiable coin of the realm. They may commemorate Christmas of a certain year or have some other decorative design. Many times these can be found significantly lower in price than a standard silver dollar with the same silver content. I much prefer an official silver dollar, but would like to hear your thoughts. - C.G., Morganton, N.C.

JWR Replies: Silver "rounds" (or "trade dollars") that are .999 fine (99.9% pure silver) do indeed have their place in survival planning. Colloidal silver generation is definitely one of these uses. Just be sure to rub them down thoroughly with alcohol to clean them and dry them before use with a colloidal silver generator. As for barter, however, I believe that pre-1965 mint date "junk" silver will be much more recognizable and trusted by the average gent on the other side of the barter table. If you bring out silver rounds to trade, then the topics of authenticity and assay are sure to come up. The first question will be: "How do I know those are real?" In contrast, pre-'65 silver coins will probably be accepted without hesitation. The only point of disagreement about their barter value may be if the coins are heavily worn--and that is a minor hurdle compared to basic recognition of authenticity. So I recommend that all of your designated "barter" silver be pre-1965 dimes, quarters, half dollars or silver dollars.

Above and beyond your purchase of barter silver coins, if you want some "time machine" silver to maintain the value your nest egg from one side of a financial crisis to another, then it should be in the form of the least expensive silver bullion on the market. The lowest premiums (per ounce) are found on 100 ounce bullion bars. (BTW, they make great "ballast" to help keep a burglar from hauling off your gun vault.) The Engelhard, Johnson-Matthey, and Sunshine Minting brands are the most well-known makers for eventual resale. But in essence, silver bullion is silver bullion. Regardless of the maker's name, just be sure that you buy serialized bars so that you will be less likely to pay assay fees when you re-sell. If, however, you have the option to pick from different types all at the same price, then buy the later Engelhard bars in the "flag" logo hard plastic wrappers, with no tarnish. Those seem to have the greatest resale appeal.

Due to the minting cost, one ounce rounds carry a higher premium per ounce. At times, however, you can buy them for close to the day's spot price. Ask around at coin shows if any of the dealers have any "beater" or badly tarnished Christmas or commemorative rounds. You should be able to get those for just a few pennies over spot, especially in today's rising market. The highest premium for silver is on the nationally minted one ounce rounds (such as the silver U.S. Eagle, the silver Canadian Maple Leaf, and the silver Aussie Kookaburra.) As of this writing, those currently sell for $9 to $15 each, which is far above the spot price of silver.

"..the simple truth -- born of experience -- is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people.The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed -- where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once."- Federal Court of Appeals Judge Kozinski (an immigrant from Eastern Europe), as recently quoted by John Stossel

Friday, October 21, 2005

Another issue of my very favorite magazine just arrived and I wanted to tell you all about it. It is "The magazine of modern homesteading": Countryside and Small Stock Journal. Unlike most magazines out there, C&SSJ has a very low ad to content ratio. It doesn't waste page space with lots of pretty photos or other fluff like the other "country" magazines. And it is written by the subscribers. C&SSJ is 130 pages full of practical information! The Nov/Dec.2005 issue contains full length articles about purchasing and using a masonry stove, how to build a "cut back" thermostat to reduce energy use, and several other alternative energy articles. Each issue features a question of the month, this issues question was "How to start a home business on the homestead" There were thirteen thoughtful replies to the question from readers who had done just that. Not only were there a number of innovative home-based business ideas, but the writers pointed out the benefits and costs of their particular businesses as well as their successes and failures. Each issue of C&SSJ has a number of how to articles. This issue features how to build a smokehouse, make soap, make a boot scraper, how to repair a hose, and build an egg incubator from an old cooler. Each issue also features regular departments The Garden, The Country Kitchen, The Henhouse, The Livestock Barn, which always contain great ideas and timely tips from readers. This issue had articles about seed companies, turnips, recipes for pumpkins,salsas, relish, wheat berries, and sourdough starter, just to highlight a few! I think C&SSJ is a good value because there is so much content crammed into each issue. The fact that C&SSJ is reader-written is another reason why I prefer Countryside and Small Stock Journal to all other "country" magazines. The articles are written by people actually living on homesteads who tell it like it is. C&SSJ writers don't sugar coat their experiences. They don't edit out the parts about the obnoxious neighbors, the predators that killed half their chicken flock, or the prized dairy goat that died of bloat. You get the unvarnished truth about country life. How refreshing!
The newsstand price of C&SSJ is $3.95. $18 for a year subscription. Subscriptions: Countryside Subscriptions, P.O. Box 3190, Van Nuys, Calif. 91407
Their toll free # is: 800-551-5691 Subscription website:: http://www.countrysidemag.com

Here is a letter that I was going to write to a guy in response to an inquiry on what timberland was running for here in northern Idaho. It might be of interest to the blog readers.

In the northwest, when looking for a retreat most of us are looking for timbered property. We imagine tall big trees with a house settled down in the hallow or located in some vantage point and defensible. I have given a lot of thought to the idea that if I had the assets what would I be looking for in timberland, best bang for my buck so to speak. A stand of mature timber comes with some advantages and many disadvantages. Large timber on property allows good thermal cover and a good screen from a distance. It can pose some fire danger and in fierce winds it does not matter if the stand is dense or not--it can be very intimidating. With merchantable timber you will pay for the timber on the property. If the prior owner logs it, he logs it to his prescribed cut (i.e. taking what he wants, not what you would like to be there.) The end results being something other than the vision you had for your retreat. Once logged, large trees further become risks as they are now susceptible to wind throw, unless, the tree has been open grown for awhile so that wind firmness applies. The advantages of buying property without merchantable timber outweighs the disadvantages in my mind. You do not pay for a cruise to determine standing volume and thus pay the owner for that capital on the stump.The best case is the property was logged a while ago, allowing time to catch up and the regenerated seedlings to grow and the slash to decompose.

The ideal: Something that was logged 15-to-20 years ago. Hopefully, it would have been burned and planted. Ideally, trees that are 3-to-4 inches in diameter at 4.5 feet [from the ground], anywhere from 16-to-30 feet tall, with good healthy crowns occupying 40% or more of the bole. These trees would be in prime growing condition, if spaced properly, and could soon be usable. ("Soon" being in another 10-15 years.) This scenario, unfortunately for the retreat hunter, would be a rare case indeed. Most stands for sale are left with the poorest specimens of the trees that existed prior to harvest. These are left as seed trees. Usually, the lowest value species are also left. So, you end up with land full of slash, often choked with trees that are of poor genetics, and often not the best species to have growing on your land. What you have then is a lot of work in clean up.

Whatever area you happen to be looking in, it is always wise to become familiar with what tree species are present, where they grow best, etc. It can tell you a lot about the site. An example: In my area of northern Idaho, lodgepole and spruce with an absence of Red Cedar means you are in a pretty cold area. You should also be aware that certain species are susceptible to pests and diseases that can soon wipe out all your cover and future firewood. In the lowlands, with sedimentary soils, grand fir, here in northern Idaho will become infected with root rot and beetle attacks fairly easily and you will soon have a stand of gray snags before you know it.

Questions to Ask: Ask the local forest professionals. My recommendation would be to ask foresters with some of the larger private forest industries. These are individuals who have to deal with many different species across many different land types. They also know the best most cost effective way to handle forest pathology. They are normally more than willing to take a little time to talk to you. They are usually delighted somebody from the public would even ask their opinion. Personally, I would not advise asking the local forest service. These are folks who have developed into experts with appeasing irate environmentalists and dealing with bureaucratic paperwork---not practical forest solutions.

As for the money: A good rule of thumb for bare timberland (treeless) value, that timber companies would be interested in, is approximately $500 an acre. However, this is often bare land that is very remote with little or no access. Value, obviously, increases the closer to a paved or county road the property lies. Timberland assessors look at distance from mills, stocking (amount of the ground that is occupied by timber), species that the ground is stocked with (i.e. red cedar versus ponderosa pine, grand fir, or douglas fir), the age of the stand, and the amount of net saw (the amount of wood that is not defective or rotten.) Available timbered property that borders good drivable roads is in high demand in many areas of northern Idaho. Prices are being driven up almost unreasonably.

To find out how much your timber is worth, the easiest thing to do is hire a timber cruising firm to perform a cruise on the land. That service could run you a bare minimum of $400 for a small parcel or 20 dollars a plot with fees for calculations and office work, ( Just a note: $20 a plot is low end, and $35 would be along the lines of a premium service) with 1 plot per acre being a fairly intensive cruise for large parcels, but reasonable for medium to small parcels, or one plot for every 3-5 acres if the land is large and has a fairly uniform timber type.
[JWR Adds: If the property is more than 60 acres and the stand of timber is fairly uniform, then I recommend that you just ask for a "strip" cruise. This type of cruise only evaluates zebra stripes from the parcel, and the cruise report then extrapolates the total board footage. A strip cruise will still give you a good approximation of the value of the timber yet will cost a lot less money than a detailed cruise of the entire parcel.]

Lastly, if you are interested in managing your own forest land I would suggest a few more rules of thumb. #1) Timber always grows best when the canopy of one tree is not touching the canopy of another (i.e. closed canopy.) So, give them some space and room to grow. #2) All your Bambis, bear, and elk like open area's for feed with places of cover to run through and hide in--that is to say diversity, make sure they've got a little of everything so that it's inviting to them. And diversity does not mean to always leave the biggest trees. Biggest isn't always best. #3) Plan your open areas so that they are areas where you have good vantage and cover for yourself, for home defense, as well as the opportune hunting. May Christ Lift You Up - Eric in Northern Idaho

Hello Jim,
While I am relatively new to the path of self-reliance, I have enjoyed related hobbies all my life, and I must commend you on a stunning website. I have never found a place to have such diverse information so organized and diligently explained. A day does not go by that I do not visit to read your daily posts and often look back and re-read the archives which I glean even more data from.
I am writing because I found that Amazon.com has Sambucol for sale from third-party vendors cheaper than those very same vendors have posted on their web sites. The bottles of the large 7.8 fluid ounce of Sambucol Original from Web Vitamins priced at $13.59 on Amazon.com whilst on their website they are priced at $15.99. After picking up three bottles I have provided the direct link to the product below:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0001C0E9O/103-6709263-0263035?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance -- I hope this can be of use to those stocking up on Black Elderberry essence. I know I'll be planting some elderberry bushes in my garden come winter's thaw! Thanks again and keep up the great work!
- "Dancing Barefoot"

Mr. Rawles:
Okay, say TEOTWAWKI happens. You have some silver coins and want to buy something. How does the person you buy whatever from know what it is actually worth since it is constantly changing. If you buy something for $2.00 do you hand the person 20 silver dimes? Or does the shop owner have to find out what silver is worth that day and weigh what you hand him. Also I've read the government is going to confiscate all gold including collectors old gold. I live in Minnesota west of the Mississippi about 50 miles on a lowly 10 acres surrounded by corn and soybeans. - Sherry in Minnesota

JWR Replies: WTSHTF, the spot price of silver will likely zoom up to $50+ per ounce before the formal markets disappear. If the Internet is up and/or newspapers are still published, the daily spot price of silver will be widely known. But even in a total collapse (grid down, and Internet down) everyone will at least know that silver is "valuable." But that is that is when will get interesting , because fixing a real world price in barter terms will be subject to negotiation. I believe that a general consensus of "X times face value" will soon develop. There will be no scales and very little calculation required. Read the "For and Ounce of Gold" (Barter Faire description) chapter in my novel "Patriots" for some examples. As previously stated, I strongly recommend that you get your beans, bullets and band-aids squared away before investing in any silver for barter. I predict that common caliber ammunition ("ballistic wampum" in Jeff Cooper's parlance) will be the preferred barter currency in the immediate post-collapse period. It will only be later, as order is gradually restored, that an interest in precious metals will revive.

Parenthetically, a curious phenomenon has been noted by travelers in the jungles of South America that have visited remote villages where gold is mined. There, they have negotiated buying raw gold nuggets and gold dust. Even though there was not a radio in the village, the local villagers could quote the current spot price of gold to within a few dollars per ounce. Markets are sophisticated, even in unsophisticated places. News gets around with surprising regularity, even just by word of mouth on jungle trails and rivers. As Bill Bonner of The Daily Reckoning so aptly puts it; "Mr. Market is never fooled." The classic economists refer to this as "The Invisible Hand" effect.

As for you point about gold confiscation: Gold has been confiscated once before in this country. (During the Depression of the 1930s, by the socialistic FDR administration.) That could happen again, in turbulent times. For this reason, I recommend that if you have the space available--in the bottom of your gun vault or perhaps behind a false wall --that you invest far more in silver than in gold. (As it is less likely to be subject to a confiscation decree. Being in smaller dollar increments per coin, silver coins are also more readily divisible for barter.) After you've bought your "junk" silver for barter if you decide buy any gold, I recommend that you do so without a paper trail.

"I believe that liberty is the only genuinely valuable thing that men have invented, at least in the field of government, in a thousand years. I believe that it is better to be free than to be not free, even when the former is dangerous and the latter safe. I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman's club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave." - H. L. Mencken

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I'm down with the flu, so we are just running a few letters today.

German-silver is a Brass - or in the family of brass thereof anyway just like bronze - don't catch me out with too much details as an expert will tell me how far off I am on that statement! Regardless, "German silver" has NO silver at all, it is to varying degrees of composition depending on its intent etc, basically: copper, from 50% to 61.6%; zinc, from 19% to 17.2%; nickel, from 30% to 21.1%. Developed by the way by the German scientist Geitner. There is a related alloy called Tuetenag (see the German connection???...which is very "gold" looking - also the same idea really as a "replacement" for silver using german-silver, and had some sort of Chinese development taken on by the Europeans - Tuetenag can be found with various other names. Sometimes, pretty uncommonly, one sees old flintlock pistol barrels made form it - more expensive then brass. Coin Silver is .900 fine [90% pures silver] you are right there, but it isn't exactly true to say that it represents silverware items: Flatware or Hollowware made from melted coins - instead really it is simply a way of stating the content of the silver as other then sterling. Indeed you should point out that there were various melts by the Mint and that those Congressionally sanctioned melts deleted a huge supply of American silver coinage (which WAS in turn remade into coins, the last time with the 1921 Morgans I think.) Lastly the Treasury was obliged to surrender 100 million ounces (I think, don't quote me) of silver to the development of the atomic bomb during WWII - where that stuff came from and where it went - who'd know! There is a Canadian silver coin standard too - I think it is .800 - you may have to help me on that front but the Canadians you may want to add that to your Silver commentary. You might add something about Mexican and South American too - 50 Pesos pieces are the BEST - many silver and gold coins and medals from Latin America list their content right on them ("Ley .900".) And as well sometimes their weight in grams. Anyway other pesos pieces sell for only respectable gold value money (especially late dates into the 1950s) and are easily carried and widely recognized even north of the Rio Grande - indeed following your good logic about silver dimes, one ought to invest in these pieces. Here's some information which does NOT however represent all dates of mintages... Description: Mexico - 5 [gold] Pesos - 1906 - Weight: 4.1666 grams - .1339 Troy Oz. - Fineness: .900 Diameter: 19mm. - Fine Gold Content: 3.7497 grams .1205 Troy Oz. Regards, - "Fritz Holland"

JWR Replies: Canada's early silver coins were originally .925 fine, and hence had slightly smaller coin sizes than their U.S. counterparts. In 1920 the standard was reduced to .800 fine, remaining there until mid-1967 when it was lowered to .500 fine. That was abandoned just a year later in 1968, when they switched to pure nickel coins.

Jim, one thing that you might have people keep in mind is the primary vehicle's spare tire as well as their TEOTWAWKI vehicle. It has not happened to me but look at all the people on the road who have flat tires thinking that they have a spare and then that spare is useless because it has no air. (Or it is missing.)Your spares should be checked for air at consistent intervals as well as checked physically checked at least twice a year. Another good idea that I have seen mentioned is keeping at least the gas tank half full. I have been doing this for years. - A.B.

A free online course on pandemics is offered by the University of Albany. They have good intro courses with very helpful information. They are free and work at your own pace. This one is about Flu Pandemics. See: http://www.ualbanycphpi.org/learning/registration/detail_Pandemics.cfm
- Missouri Goat Lady

"A few honest men are better than numbers." - Oliver Cromwell

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I am often asked in e-mails about gold and silver coins and their value, both in the present day and their eventual worth (post-TEOTWAWKI) for barter purposes.

The basic unit of measure for most of us that are in preparedness circles is the $1,000 face value bag of circulated U.S. silver coinage, minted in or before 1964. (Some folks mistakenly call these coins "Pre-'64", but properly they should be termed "Pre-'65.")

1964 was the last year that 90% silver coins were minted for circulation in the U.S. All of the dimes and quarters minted from 1965 onward are "clad" copper pieces--a sandwiched token that is mainly copper and merely flashed with silver. The government has the audacity to still refer to the new currency as "money" and "dollars", when they are nothing of the sort. Just look at the edge of one of the modern "coins" in your pocket. We've been robbed, ladies and gents!

The 90% silver coins were almost all gleaned out of circulation by about 1967. Finding one these in your pocket change these days is a rarity and cause for celebration. (Usually inadvertently in circulation because a child raided the wrong piggy bank and spent the coins in ignorance.) The Kennedy half dollar continued to be minted with just 40% silver content from 1965 to 1970. After that, Uncle Sugar dropped all pretense of issuing real coinage for circulation.

A $1,000 bag weighs about 55 pounds and is roughly the size of a bowling ball. The coins used for this purpose are typically well-worn and hence have little or no numismatic (collector's) value. Hence, they are often derisively called "junk silver" bags by coin dealers and collectors. Dimes, quarters, and half dollars all have the same ratio of silver content per dollar of face value. Silver dollars have a bit more silver content per dollar, so they sell at a premium. (See below.) Because of the weight of silver bags insured shipping is problematic. So it is advisable to buy locally, but definitely shop around for the best price! If you don't have any nearby coins shop and don't mind paying for the freight, contact the folks at Swiss America Trading. They are very reputable.

Here are some basic figures on U.S. silver coinage that you should keep tucked away, both on your hard disk and in hard copy form:

Silver dollar bags ($1,000 face value) contain approximately 765 ounces of silver

90% .50/.25/.10 bags ($1,000 face value) contain approximately 715 ounces of silver. (Thus, if the day's "spot" market price is $7.50 per ounce, then a $1,000 face value bag of pre-1965 mint date quarters would be worth $5,362.50, wholesale. Or just think of it as 5.36 times the face value of any single coin. Hence, a "junk" silver quarter is presently worth about $1.34, wholesale.) Retail prices typically run around 7% over wholesale on small quantities, and as little as 4% to 5% when you buy a full bag or multiple bags. But it all depends on where you do your buying, since some dealers provide for most of their profit when they buy, while others do when they sell.

40% half dollar bags ($1,000 face value) contain approximately 296 ounces of silver. (These were the 40% silver Kennedy half dollars minted between 1965 and 1970.)

Adjusted for inflation, the price of silver is still near its historic low. It was as high as $45 an ounce as recently as 1979. (That equates to 32 times face value!!!) I consider silver at anywhere under $10 an ounce a real bargain.

Conversion Formulas:

Grams to pennyweights, multiply grams by .643
Pennyweights to grams, multiply pennyweights by 1.555
Grams to troy ounces, multiply grams by 0.32
Troy ounces to grams, multiply troy ounces by 31.103
Pennyweights to troy ounces, divide pennyweights by 20
Troy ounces to pennyweights, multiply troy ounces by 20
Grains to grams, multiply grains by .0648
Grams to grains, multiply grams by 15.432
Pennyweights to grains, multiply pennyweights by 24
Avoirdupois ounces to troy ounces, multiply avoirdupois ounces by .912
Troy ounces to avoirdupois ounces, multiply troy ounces by 1.097
Avoirdupois ounces to grams, multiply avoirdupois ounces by 28.35
Grams to Avoirdupois ounces, multiply grams by .035

Gold Purity Standards (by Karat):
24 K = 99.9% fine Pure Gold. Too weak for jewelry, but ideal for industrial use
23.5K = 97.92% fine
23 K = 95.83% fine
22.5K = 93.75% fine
22 K = 92.67% fine Some coin gold, though not that of the U.S., is 22K
21.6K = 90.00% fine The approximate purity of U.S. gold coins
21.5K = 89.58% fine
21 K = 87.50% fine
20.5K = 85.42% fine
20 K = 83.33% fine
19.5K = 81.25% fine
19 K = 79.17% fine
18.5K = 77.08% fine
18 K = 75.00% fine The highest grade of gold normally used in jewelry.
17.5K = 72.92% fine
17 K = 70.83% fine
16.5K = 68.75% fine
16 K = 66.67% fine 1/3 copper. This grade is commonly used in dental work.
15.5K = 64.58% fine
15 K = 62.50% fine
14.5K = 60.42% fine
14 K = 58.33% fine
13.5K = 56.25% fine
13 K = 54.17% fine
12.5K = 52.08% fine
12 K = 50.00% fine Half gold, half copper. Used extensively in low priced jewelry. (Will show brownish tinge in reaction to Nitric Acid.)
11.5K = 47.92% fine The percentage of copper now exceeds that of gold.
11 K = 45.83% fine
10.5K = 43.75% fine
10 K = 41.67% fine Used in some low-grade jewelry such as class rings. Shows a marked reaction to Nitric Acid.
9.5 K = 39.58% fine
9 K = 37.50% fine Not much more than one-third gold.

Silver Purity Standards:
.9999 fine "Pure Silver"
.9584 fine "Britannia Silver"--Often used in manufacturing.
.9250 fine "Sterling Silver" Normally stamped "Sterling" or ".925"
.9000 fine "Coin Silver" Some antique items are marked "Dollar", "D",".900", or "Coin Silver" to indicate they were made from melted coins.
"German Silver" is +/- 97% base metal and only +/- 3% silver, and thus has no bullion value.

As stated in previous SurvivalBlog posts, I consider pre-1965 silver dimes the best coins to keep on hand for barter. They are a small enough increment of purchasing value that they will be practical for buying things such as cans of beans or a loaves of bread. I do not recommend gold coins for barter because they are too compact a form of wealth. Aside from resorting to a cold chisel, if you use them in barter you will likely end up on the losing side of the transaction.

The value that silver coins will bring you in barter will depend on the times. Immediately after a collapse, I predict that silver coins may not be worth much at all in barter. But as law and order is gradually restored, they will probably be worth more and more. The bottom line is the old legal maxim: "The value of a thing is what that thing will bring."

The old saying is that if you think education is expensive, try ignorance. Being a proponent of a self-reliant lifestyle like most readers of SurvivalBlog, I find it is sometimes costly to get the training we need to make ourselves better informed. Being basically frugal (read: cheap) I've searched out some ways to get the knowledge I wanted without a large outlay of money.
My first stop in my hunt for knowledge was at the Human Resources office at my place of employment. I discovered that there were several American Red Cross (ARC) first aid and CPR classes offered. The really great thing was that my job classification was one that allowed me to attend class on company time and get trained. Not only free, but paid to learn lifesaving skills useful in almost every survival situation. Now that is not bad deal at all.
I followed up the first aid/CPR class with a call to the local chapter of the Red Cross. For no fee I could sign up for such classes as Introduction to Disaster Services. This class is needed as a prerequisite for most ARC classes in the disaster area. This class is designed to educate the student with an overview of the roll of the ARC in such events as hurricanes to floods that displace whole communities to house fires that displace a single family. Also free of charge are classes like Mass Care, Shelter Operations Workshop, Damage Assessment and Emergency Assistance to Families. Even if the student never volunteers to work with the ARC he can become quite knowledgeable about the operations of their community’s services during a disaster.
For the readers of SurvivalBlog there are other ARC classes that can be of use and the cost is minimal. For $15 there is a class on Preventing Disease Transmission. Other low cost classes (under $30) are: First Aid for Daycare Worker/Infant/child First Aid-Review, Child Abuse Recognition & Prevention, and good old Basic First Aid. The American Red Cross also has other classes that teach among others, Lifesaving and CPR for the Professional Rescuer but the cost on these classes can run well over $125.

Next on the list of free training comes from the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a lot of courses that you can study at home, or on line. Courses such as Emergency Preparedness, USA, which help the student evaluate what types of emergencies they are most likely to experience. It helps the student prepare for the disasters that they determine are most likely to happen in their area. Warm clothes and heat sources for the possibility of snowstorms or blizzards in the northern states, or plywood stutters for the coast about to be hit with a hurricane are some of the ideas that are pointed out for students. It is common sense ideas packed in a study manual.
Other courses available are on such subjects as Hazardous Materials, Animals in Disaster, Retrofitting Flood-prone Structures, or Emergency Program Manager. For a list of the home study guides you can write:
Federal Emergency Management Agency
EMI-Independent Study Program
16825 South Seton Avenue
Emmitsburg, Maryland 21727-8998
On the web at: http://www.fema.gov/tab_education.shtm
After the courses are completed FEMA will send the student a nice certificate suitable for framing. In some cases the completed courses are also good for college credit.
My place of employment also sent me to the local branch of the National Safety Council, those Green Cross folks. I attended a seminar on Fire Safety and Confined Space Entry. I also earned a forklift driver’s license through this organization. Since my employer is a member of the council the classes were free of charge and done on work time. The Safety Council offers many classes on industrial safety; many of the classes are useful in any survival situation. Face it, just adding a job skill like driving a forklift helps your personnel survivability in the event of a lay off or plant closing.

My sons showed me another inexpensive way to get some very useful knowledge. They had joined Boy Scouts of America and while they were working on merit badges I flipped through the pamphlet and was surprised at the easy to read booklet and amount of knowledge that it held. Boy Scout merit badge books, there are around a 120, cover subjects from Astronomy to Woodworking. Many of the subjects covered are of use to the person studying to be more self-reliant. Backpacking, Camping, First Aid, Orienteering, Weather, and Wilderness Survival are some of the titles that anyone needing information on can get some quick easy to study knowledge. There are other titles that may also be of use, such as Crime Prevention, Plumbing, Home Repairs, Emergency Preparedness, Rifle and Shotgun Shooting.
I found that my parents were having some land disputes and we needed to talk to a surveyor. I spent the $2 for the Surveying Merit Badge booklet and read it over before we meet with the surveyors. I was able to understand enough of the “trade lingo” to ask the right questions. I discovered that since I understood their language that they were more willing to work with my family than the other folks involved. I couldn’t run a couple of rods of chain and find a corner stake, but I did manage to get the problem resolved to our satisfaction. To develop outdoors skills, working with a local scout troop might be a good idea also. By working with scouts learning to travel in the wilderness, cook outdoors over a fire, build shelters, handy useful knot tying, and working with map and compass can all become basic skills. Boy Scouts also offer leadership training that teaches how to teach the scouts. It is excellent learning, and the cost is usually under $20 for a weekend of hands on training. For information on ordering Boy Scout books and information look in the local phone book or write:
Boy Scouts of America
Supply Division
PO Box 65989
Charlotte, North Carolina 28265-0989
On the web at: www.scouting.org

A friend of mine told me about a class he took at the Criminal Justice Training and Education Center (CJCC.) He worked for the County as a Deputy Dog Warden and was able to take free classes at the CJCC. Since I worked for the county also he wondered if I could take some classes with him. I checked with HR again and yes indeed I could take some classes, for free and on company time, as long as they related to my job. Since not many jobs call for survival skills as part of their skills required, and my maintenance job did not resemble criminal justice training it looked like a dead end. It did work out that I was able to take some classes if I was willing to use vacation days to go. I signed up for classes on Gang Identification and Youth, Drugs and the Community’s Response. Knowing how to spot a gang sign or members and knowing which gang they belong to is much like the old time frontier scouts that could tell which tribe an indian belonged to and could deal better with them. On today’s streets knowledge is a survival skill.
My quest for additional information led me to investigate the local unit of our State Defense Force. I had read an article in the April, 1991 issue of American Survival Guide about State Defense Forces and looked into the one in my area. I joined the local Military Police Battalion and received some excellent training. I was only required to train one 8 hour period a month, generally one Sunday a month and in return I completed Basic Entry Level Training (BELT) class and moved on to other training as well. Attending some full weekend classes I completed the United States Army Reserve Military Police Course. Basic military and police skills are very useful in many survival situations and also add a great deal of self-confidence. Other classes that the Reserves have that I found very useful were Cold Weather and Survival Course, Hazardous Materials Technician Course, and Small Arms Range/Safety Officer Training.In addition to the courses that are offered the monthly drills give an opportunity to use the skills learned in the classroom out in the field for practical application. Land navigation, self-defense, and first aid/buddy aid are routinely re-enforced making those survival skills a strong part of your abilities.
The opportunity for anyone to learn many useful survival skills in out there. The cost for learning these lessons can be very minimal and the skills priceless. The workplace, local Red Cross, local scout troop, or State Defense Force could all add to the storehouse of knowledge, and the cost is very low. In the time of need a cool, well-informed head may be the best survival tool to have.

Thank you for your survival blog. I've learned much from you and also the folks who write in. Ideas, places to buy things etc. I am writing to let folks know that I found Sambucol at a company I buy vitamins from www.vitacost.com and the price is $6.99 per bottle. I've placed two orders and both have been filled. Thanks Again, - G.J.

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler." - Psalm 91:1-4, KJV

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I've had many request for sources for my novel. It has been out of print since December of Aught Four. Prices have crept up to around $40 per copy, due to their scarcity. However, I'm glad to report that there are a few dealers that still have a few copies of Patriots available. These include Survival Enterprises and Fred's M14 Stocks. As of this writing, the latter is currently offering a great three book package deal: Patriots + Enemies Foreign and Domestic + Boston's Gun Bible, all for $50. Please mention SurvivalBlog, regardless of where you buy your books.

Back to fun gadget related survival instead of the drudgery of feeding livestock and stockpiling boring buckets of hard red winter wheat. :-) Israeli gas masks must be very carefully selected, old canisters especially before 1993 when the bad mask scandal broke are worthless (Gulf War vintage masks were worthless toys.) Even then gas masks are not a one size fits all thing, they must be sized seal tested with banana [oil] scent and irritant smoke. Israel is one of the few places where a gas mask is a warranted purchase (but we get them provided along with an atropine injector from the rear command) because we have standing armies on our borders with chemical artillery in large quantities and our population density is high. The employment of gas weaponry in the USA is unlikely (except in an urban terrorist attack) because it requires such large amounts to be effective on a large scale.
A real protection from biological/chemical is to know how to seal a room (basement with shielding in a nuke scenario) and how to filter the air. The law here requires shelter room in all new construction (since the Gulf War) including filters, vault door, and concrete construction. Every block has several meklat's bomb/gas shelters for those without shelter rooms. Thyroid blocking doses of [Potassium] Iodide and a radiation sensor would be a better purchase than a gas mask and filters, since nuclear weapons would be more likely to be employed and effective in the case of a war.

Your link to the Sambucol page recommends 4 tablespoons daily for flu treatment. That equals one-half bottle (4oz./120ml bottle) each day per adult. Say you have 2 adults and 2 grown children, all being treated for symptoms. That equals 2 bottles per day. Readers may want to get right on this. Drugstore.com gives free shipping on $50+ orders. They are currently out of stock but promise delivery of Sambucol with two week order fulfillment.

Your article today [Sunday, October 16th] is great. You might want to mention that Sambucol is not a prescription drug--which is one reason that it will probably be gone quickly. Thanks, - Bruce

Read your draft article on Bird Flu protection. Very good! Here is some additional information you might find useful: http://www.p-73.com/ Beat the Bird Flu Virus and Survive the Pandemic (free download) at:
http://downloads.truthpublishing.com/beatthebirdfluvirus.zip - C.W.

[Some partially off topic links snipped.]

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I really enjoy your blog and novel "Patriots". I am someone who is on a tight budget, yet as made some progress in get myself prepared for tough times.
I have found the best approach is small, but constant movement toward my goal. Take food storage, for example. I began by purchasing a few extra canned goods (>$20 worth) at the grocery store during my weekly shopping, and just kept repeating. Over time, I have built-up a food reserve that could sustain my household for several months. I make sure all of the items in my reserve have a shelf life one-year or longer by rotating them into my everyday use, and replacing them (a very convenient and painless process.) As for items that cannot be bought piecemeal, I've simply done the best I am able to do with the money I have. I may not be able to afford a $1600 M1A, but I am able to afford a $300 Winchester 1300 riot shotgun, and lets face it -- a good gun in hand beats a great gun on lay-away, any day.
I guess that's it. Have a good evening, and keep up the good work! Best Wishes, - James K., People's Republik of Kalifornia

JWR Replies: Your progress is commendable! I wish that more Americans bought canned food like you do. Just be sure to mark the date purchased on each can with a fine point permanent marker. (Such as a "Sharpie" pen.) A "deep larder" is something that you can rely on for disasters (natural or man made) or even just a lay-off at work.

For the benefit of any newbie readers: Always place the most recently bought cans at the back of your pantry shelves.

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the Public Treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the Public Treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by dictatorship." - Alexander Fraser Tyler, 18th century Scottish historian, The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic

Monday, October 17, 2005

Two million page hits and 74,000 unique views! That is not bad for a blog that is just over two months old. I greatly appreciate your support, folks! Please continue to tell your neighbors and like-minded friends about SurvivalBlog. Your support of the blog via T-Shirt/gear sales and classified ad placements are also greatly appreciated. Also, please mention SurvivalBlog whenever you contact any of our advertisers.

In a TEOTWAWKI situation, being able to trap game is a very vital skill. The fresh meat would be a welcome addition to your stored food. But you may not want to alert others to your location by shooting. Trapping is a labor-efficient method of filling this vital need.

It is useful to understand fur trappers so that you don't end up competing with them. A fur trapper's goal is to get as much fur as quickly as he or she can. The goal to hit the hot spots hard and fast and beat the competition. Some guys run 2-to-3 dozen traps in the early morning before work. Most fur trappers are hobby trappers who take one or two weeks off work and run hard for that time. They could be running 100 traps or maybe 300 muskrat traps. Normally they operate out of a truck and may cover 100 or more miles a day.

A fur trapper tries to run in a circle around his base. He may run east side for a 100 mile loop for a week, then the next week north, the following week west, and the fourth week South. Or he may run a 100 mile loop of only the hottest spots in mind. There are several ways trap lines are run and there is no hard and fast rules. People are different and have different ways of doing things. But one thing to keep in mind a fur trapper hates to back track. Dead end roads that ends miles from a turn might be skipped. Most trappers are within 50 to 100 yards off the road. Remember "hard and fast" means the trapper doesn't have time to be walking all day. Presently, fur prices are down and gas prices are up. This equals less miles on the commercial trap lines and many more opportunities for the food trapper.

In contrast to a fur trapper, a survival or food trapper wants to catch animals based on palatability rather than fur value. This will solve a lot of problems because the better tasting animals are easier to trap than fox or coyotes. A real advantage is that a food trapper can set up his area for long term use. Meaning harvesting enough to eat but not wipe out the animals so that each year there are animals to harvest for food. A easy example with beaver trapping is taking two per hunt. This can turn into a yearly guarantee of food and fur.

As survival trapper you want to harvest the animals quietly in out of the way places. With rising living expenses this a truly practical skill, although regulations vary widely from state to state. Buy a trapping license and get out there. Every pound of meat you bring home is more dollars in your pocket. Experience is the best teacher. I have taught thousands and thousands of students personally and through my videos. Most make catches in their first night. You name the top survival instructors and I can guarantee I have taught some of his students how to trap and snare with professional grade self locking snares.

Proviso: Don't go out and try illegal trapping methods before TEOTWAWKI or you will risk heavy fines and jail time. In a real emergency what can a dozen cam lock snares do for you? Pre-Y2K, I sold one dozen cam locks and a survival snaring video to a fellow in Mexico. In June of 2000 he contacted me and said, "Thank you for your snares and snaring video." I asked why he made the expense of calling me long distance with a thank you. He said, "Well, you have to understand that for the last three years I was at my deer camp and never shot a deer. This year getting ready for Y2K I took your snares and gave them a try in less then a week I took 11 deer." You name anything else that can catch you an estimated 1,650 pounds of venison without firing a shot for under $50 (for the dozen the cam locks and DVD.) No other product can do this. Silent, deadly, working "24/7". I call that a deal. 1,650 pounds of venison for under $50 works out to a little more then .03 cent a pound live weight. Now please read this carefully: Snaring deer is illegal everywhere in The United States. If you get caught you will be subjected to heavy fines and maybe jail time. Do not do this unless it is a true emergency. Don't go out and try it beforehand or you will risk heavy fines and jail time. (But once TEOTWAWKI happens there are no laws its the collapse of society and you will need to take care of your family.)

Squirrels, rabbits, ducks, pheasants, grouse and quail, can all be easily taken with a #110 conibear trap. Geese and turkeys can be taken with a #220 conibear trap. The conibear traps are awesome. They are well built and last for years. I used one last fall to trap a mink and muskrats that I originally bought when I was a teenager, back in 1975. Yes, 30 years ago. Now please read this carefully: Trapping game birds is illegal everywhere in The United States. For Rabbits and squirrels check your state game laws.

Another advantage to trapping/snaring is there are no gun shot wounds contaminating the meat. That will equal more meat in the pot. Learn to trap/snare now (if legal) in your state. Practice on raccoon, beaver, groundhogs, etc. The experience you learn now may will save your life when TEOWAWKI happens. Trapping and snaring teaches more then how to obtain food it also teaches you skills that may save your life. In the Viet Nam war one trapper wrote that because of his trapping skills he was able to spot booby traps set for his patrol. His trapping skills saved his life and the men around him. Another valuable plus in a uncertain world.

In closing, you should understand that a properly trained survivalist equipped with real snares and traps will out-produce any hunter alive. - "Buckshot"

JWR's Comment: I have been a doing business with "Buckshot" Bruce for many years. His videos contain a wealth of knowledge that would take decades to re-create by trial and error. He also sells traps, snares, and scents at very reasonable prices. When you are allocating your retreat provisioning budget, you should seriously consider trapping. Trapping is far more efficient and much more covert than hunting. There are literally tons of protein on fours legs out there that can be harvested for your family and for charity, but only if you have the right tools and knowledge. For more information, see Buckshot's site: http://www.buckshotscamp.com/Ent-BS-Camp.htm

As far as disinfecting water, rather than bleach I'd recommend calcium hypochlorite (available as swimming pool chlorine or shock.) It's somewhat cheaper, easier to use, doesn't taste quite as bad (it's what the military uses in large disinfection systems), and if you get a pool water test kit (the basic one) you can measure the residual chlorine. Just mix some calcium hypochlorite with water in a plastic squeeze bottle and add to the water you want to disinfect: Take a small sample out with the test kit and get something between 5 and 10 ppm (7-8 ppm is ideal.) A one-pound bag of calcium hypochlorite was around $5 at my local grocery store, and represents enough water to treat a good-sized swimming pool full of water (BTW, don't drink swimming pool water unless it's been recently replaced, and then only if you can filter it.)
For smaller quantities of water (backpacking) I like Polar Pure, and then my compressed carbon block (non-ceramic) filter. Ceramic filters can crack if they freeze, and are somewhat delicate. - Dr. November

"Survival depends a great deal on a person's ability to withstand stress in emergency situations. Your brain is without doubt your best survival tool. It is your most valuable asset in a survival situation. It isn't always the physically strong who are the most effective or better at handling fear in emergency situations. Survival more often depends on the individual's reactions to stress than upon the danger, terrain, or nature of the emergency. To adapt is to live." - Chris Conway, in The Attitude of Survival

Sunday, October 16, 2005

I would greatly appreciate any further comments/corrections to the following article, particularly from our readers who are doctors. Special thanks to "Dr. November" who has already made some comments and additions. I have now made it available for widespread dissemination as a "free use" piece that can be e-mailed and posted to various forums. (See the new button in my blog site top bar.)

The emerging threat of the Asian Avian Flu Virus (AAV H5N1) brings into sharp focus the vulnerability of modern, highly mobile and technological societies to viral or bacterial infectious diseases. The last major Asian flu outbreak, (H2N2 in 1957, which killed 69,800 people in the United States) took five months to reach the United States. With the advent of global jet travel, it is now likely that highly virulent disease strains will be transmitted to population centers around the world in a matter of just a few days.

In this article, I will describe how you can protect yourself and your family from the next great pandemic. Although the likelihood of AAV H5N1 mutating into a strain that can easily be transmitted between humans is relatively low, the potential impact if this were to occur would be devastating. The current strain of the virus has a 58% lethality rate for humans. But even if AAV H5N1 turns out to be a "non-event", in the next few decades there is a very high likelihood that some other disease will emerge and suddenly make a pandemic breakout. The odds are against us, because influenzas have tendency toward antigenic shift. Because influenzas are viral and are spread by casual person to person contact, the majority of the world's population will be exposed in just a few weeks or months. Even today, more than 30,000 Americans die each year from flu complications--mostly the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Here are the key things that you need to do to protect yourself and your family, and to help restore order during a pandemic:

A.) Raise Your Immune Resistance

B.) Be Ready to Fight the Illness

C.) Avoid Exposure.

D.) Stockpile Key Logistics.

E.) Be Prepared to Dispense Charity From a Safe Distance

I will briefly discuss each of these requirements in this article. I will also be posting more detailed follow-up articles on each topic in my daily blog (web journal) at http://www.SurvivalBlog.com

Raise Your Immune Resistance

There are two philosophies to fighting off influenza viruses. The first and mostly prevalent is to raise the body's immune response. The other is to maintain normal immune response to prevent a collapse caused by over-response--a so called "cytokine storm". While opinion is divided on this issue, I tend toward a strong immune response--particularly if combating a highly virulent illness.

To raise your immune resistance to disease it is important that you stop smoking. If you are a smoker you have already realized that you are much more susceptible to respiratory infections. Smokers are at high risk to develop complications. Get plenty of exercise, eat healthy foods, drink only in moderation, get plenty of sleep, and use top quality vitamin supplements. If you are overweight, you need to alter your diet get down to within five pounds of normal body weight. You need to change your diet for two important reasons: First, unhealthy foods weaken your immune system. Cut out refined sugar. Avoid candy, snack foods, soft drinks, and any processed foods with preservatives, artificial sweeteners, or MSG. Avoid store-bought meat, which is often tainted by the hormones and antibiotics used in commercial livestock feeds. Wild game or home-raised livestock is much healthier! Lastly, pray. Why? Anxiety is a form of stress that weakens the immune system, and prayer is a proven way to relieve anxiety and stress. And more importantly, as a Christian I believe that it is crucial to pray for God's guidance, providence, and protection.

Be Ready to Fight the Illness

There are some symptoms that distinguish between colds and flus: Flus typically cause fever, chills, achy feeling (malaise), headaches, and extreme fatigue. Cold symptoms are usually restricted to the upper respiratory tract while flu symptoms tend to involve the entire body.

Influenzas tend to kill most of their victims in two ways: dehydration and lung congestion. Even the Avian flu, which is respiratory usually starts with stomach flu symptoms. Stomach flus usually induce diarrhea which rapidly dehydrates the victim. To fight this, you need to stock up on both anti-diarrhea medicines (such as Imodium AD--an anti-spasmodic) and electrolyte solutions such as Pedialyte. (The latter is available in bulk though large chain "warehouse" stores.) The various sports type drinks (such as Gatorade) can be used as oral rehydration solutions (ORSs) too. However, I prefer to dilute them about 50% with water, they have a lot of glucose in them which will exacerbate diarrhea symptoms.

If commercial ORSs are not available, I have read that you can make an emergency solution as follows:
• 1/2 teaspoon of salt
• 2 tablespoons honey, sugar, or rice powder
• 1/4 teaspoon potassium chloride (table salt substitute)
• 1/2 teaspoon trisodium citrate (can be replaced by baking soda)
• 1 quart of clean water

Imodium is a trade name for Loperamide. It can be purchased generically for relatively little cost, at such places as warehouse stores. The generic (house brands) are just fine. Stock up on Acetominophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Motrin) as well - for treating fevers. These two antipyretics can be taken together or on an alternating 4 hour schedule (take each every 4 hours but split them, for example at 8 AM take acetaminophen, at 10 AM take ibuprofen, etc. This makes it easier to monitor the patient and get them to drink fluids, if they're up every 2 hours they will have to drink some fluids.) Either have a traditional glass thermometer for each person, or a digital thermometer with lots of disposable sleeves. The thermometers are a couple of bucks at the stores mentioned above. The sleeves are a buck or so per hundred. Don't cross-contaminate your patients.

Because influenzas are viral rather than bacterial, most antibiotic drugs (antibacterials) are useless in combating them. If you suspect that you are coming down with influenza get bed rest! Too many people ignore their symptoms because "that project at work just has to get done." Not only do they risk their own health, but they infect their co-workers! Liquids help ease congestion and loosen phlegm and are of course crucial to rehydration. Just a fever alone can double your body's dehydration rate.

Respiratory flus such as the Asian Avian Flu kill with congestion. Buy a steam-type vaporizer. Stock up on expectorants containing guaifenesin as the main ingredient.

You will need to watch carefully for any symptoms of pneumonia develop. These include: difficulty or painful breathing, a grunting sound when breathing (quite distinct from the wheezing of bronchitis or the "barking" of croup), extremely rapid breathing, flaring nostrils with each breath, or coughing up rust-colored phlegm. Pneumonia can be a deadly complication of the flu and is the main cause of flu-related death. It is important to note that pneumonia is typically a co-infection that can be either viral or bacterial. In case of a bacterial pneumonia, antibiotics are crucial for saving lives. If it is viral, there is not much that can be done. While antibiotics can clear infection they cannot remove secretions. The patient must cough them all the way back up the respiratory tract. Do not use cough suppressants--anything with active ingredients like dextromethorphan or diphenhydramine. A "productive" (wet) cough that produces phlegm is a good thing! This is where you may need expectorants. One that works well is Robitussin (the original type of Robitussin without any capital letters after the name.) These are also available as generics, and quite cheap, so stock up. You should also read up on postural drainage and percussion techniques for chest secretion clearance--for instances when your patient cannot or will not cough effectively.

Avoid Exposure

Aside from being actually coughed or sneezed upon by an infected person, the most common way to catch the flu is by touching something which has been coughed on or sneezed upon by an infected person. For instance, the person that used the shopping cart before you had the flu. They covered their mouth with their hand when they coughed then used that very hand to push the cart around the store. Now your hands are touching the same place. Without thinking while shopping, you rub your eye or nose and you have introduce the virus to your most vulnerable point of infection. When you are out in public do NOT touch your eyes or nose. Wash your hands frequently to remove any germs you have picked up. Teach your children this as well.

Even though the chances of a full scale "nation busting" pandemic are small, the possibility definitely exists. The recent public statements by President Bush about considering the use of the military to enforce an Asian Avian flu pandemic quarantine are indicative that government officials are taking the threat seriously. A full scale pandemic that starts taking lives on a grand scale may then reasonably cause you to take some extreme measures to protect the lives of your family members. You can cut your chances of infection by more than half if you prepare to live in isolation (a strict "self quarantine") for an extended period of time. You need to be prepared to avoid all contact with other people during the worst of the pandemic. The self quarantine period might last as much as three years, as successive waves of influenza sweep through the country. Think this through, folks. What would you need to do to successfully quarantine your family? Grab a clipboard and start making some prioritized lists.

History has shown that infectious diseases do their worst in urbanized regions So if you can afford to, make plans to move to a lightly populated region, soon. Where? Read my blog ( http://www.SurvivalBlog.com) for some detailed recommendations, but in general, I recommend moving west of the Mississippi (because of the west's much lighter population density) to a rural, agricultural region. When looking for a retreat locale, look outside of city limits and away from major highways that will serve as "lines of drift" for urban refugees. You are looking for a property that could serve as a self-sufficient farm--something over five acres, and preferably closer to 40 acres. In the event of a "worst case" pandemic situation, there is the possibility that power grid could go down. Even if your farm has well water, you may be out of luck. A home with gravity fed spring water is ideal, but uncommon. So you will either need to be able to pump well water by hand--only practical with shallow wells--or be prepared to treat water that you'll draw from open sources: rivers, creeks, lakes, or ponds.

Plan to live at your retreat year-round. In the event of a full scale pandemic, the police and military will probably be ordered to enforce draconian quarantines of cities, counties, or perhaps entire states or regions. Having a well-stocked retreat is useless if you can't get to it. Live there, and become accustomed to getting by self-sufficiently. Plant a big vegetable garden, using non-hybrid seeds. Raise small livestock that can forage on your own pasture. Get your digestive system accustomed to consumption of your bulk storage foods. Home school your kids. Develop a "hunker down" lifestyle with minimal trips to town. Each trip to town will constitute another opportunity for infection.

To make self-quarantine effective, it is essential that you are prepared to live in isolation for many months, and possibly years, to avoid contact and subsequent risk of infection. This can be practical for anyone that is retired or self-employed in an occupation that does not require regular face to face contact with clients or customers. (For example home-based mail order, self-publishing, recruiting, medical/legal transcription, or telecommuting.) But for anyone else it may mean having to quit your job and live off of your savings. So it is essential that you get out of debt and start building your savings, ASAP. If you can possibly change jobs to something that will allow isolation or semi-isolation, do so as soon as possible. For most of us in the middle class, this may mean "doubling up" with another family to share resources.

To protect yourself (at least marginally) from infected spittle, wear wrap-around goggles and buy or fabricate surgical style masks, in quantity. Note that even an N100 gas mask filter will not stop an airborne virus, since the viruses are too small. But at least a cloth mask will give you some protection from virus-laden spittle. Once the pandemic breaks out in your region, you won't look out of place wearing these, even on a trip to the post office. Stock up on disposable gloves. Note that some individuals are allergic to latex. So do some extended wear tests before you buy gloves in quantity. Wear gloves whenever away from your retreat, and wash your hands frequently, regardless. Keep your hands away from your nose and eyes at all times. Stock up on soap and bottles of disinfecting hand sanitizer.

Stockpile Key Logistics

To make long term self quarantine effective you will need to buy a large quantity of long term storage food from a trustworthy vendor. Storage food is bulky and expensive to ship, so plan to buy locally or rent a truck and travel to a nearby state to pick up your storage food. In the eastern U.S., I recommend Ready Made Resources, of Tennessee. (See: http://www.ReadyMadeResources.com) In the western U.S., I recommend Walton Feed of Idaho. (See: http://www.WaltonFeed.com) It is also important to lay in extra food to dispense in charity--both to your neighbors and to any relatives that might end up on your doorstep at the 11th hour.

Stockpile fuel--firewood, home heating oil, or propane, plus fuel for your backup generator, vehicles and/or tractor. For liquid fuels, buy the largest tanks that you can afford to buy and fill, and that are allowable under your local fire code. If you heat with wood or coal, determine how many cords or pounds of coal you buy each winter and then triple that amount.

Build a sturdy gate to your driveway and get in the habit of keeping it closed and locked. It may sound far-fetched, but in the event or a "worst case" you may have to repel looters by force of arms. Buy plenty of ammo, zero your guns, and practice regularly. Hurricane Katrina showed how fragile our society is and how quickly law and order can break down in an emergency. Plan accordingly.

With the consent of your doctor and his prescription, you should stock up at least moderately on antibiotics such as penicillin and Ciprofloxacin ("cipro") to fight co-infections. But they should only be used if it is abundantly clear that a co-infection has set in. (Again, watch for pneumonia symptoms.)

There are a few drugs that have been clinically proven to be useful in lessening the symptoms of viral influenzas, and shortening the duration of illness. These include Relenza (Zanamivir), Tamiflu (Oseltamivir phosphate), and Sambucol. These drugs are used immediately after the onset of flu symptoms. Of the three, Sambucol--a tincture of black elderberry-- is probably the best. I predict shortages of these drugs in coming months, so stock up while they are still readily available!

Be Prepared to Dispense Charity From a Safe Distance

I already mentioned that it is important to lay in extra food to dispense in charity. I cannot emphasize this enough. Helping your neighbors is Biblically sound and builds trustworthy friendships that you can count on. To avoid risk of infection, you need to be prepared to dispense charity from a safe distance--without physical contact. Think: planning, teamwork, and ballistic backup. While your family's food storage can be in bulk containers (typically 5 to 7 gallon food grade plastic pails), your charity storage food should mostly be in smaller containers. Or, at least buy some extra smaller containers that you can fill and distribute to refugees. Also be sure to lay in extra gardening seed to dispense as charity. Non-hybrid ("heirloom") varieties that breed true are available from several vendors including The Ark Institute. (See: http://www.ArkInstitute.com.) By dispensing charity you will be helping to restore order and re-establish key infrastructures. The bottom line is that you'll be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

In closing, I highly recommend that you read Dr. Grattan Woodson's monograph "Preparing for the Coming Influenza Pandemic", available for free download at my blog site. Also see: http://www.fluwikie.com.

Postscript from SurvivalBlog.com Reader and Contributor "Dr. November":

I'm not a big believer in Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) or the other neuraminidase inhibitors. It's only demonstrated effect is to make the course of the flu slightly less long (on the order of 1-2 days less), but it has a critical requirement: IT MUST BE TAKEN within the first day or two of feeling ill. Most people (myself included) will just feel a little 'off' those first couple of days, or try to work through it. Tamiflu in this situation is pretty useless. Also, if someone is going to use it, they MUST have it on hand before they get sick: Getting the first symptoms, then deciding to call your physician and getting an appointment to get the prescription the week after next isn't going to help. Finally, it's pretty expensive (a standard 5 day adult dose is around $100 plus the physicians appointment.) It's also going to be in short supply as people start trying to get it (similar to Cipro following the anthrax attacks and scares.) BTW, Mom's old standby for respiratory infections (chicken soup) is as effective as oseltamivir. I doubt that it would be a good choice for an avian flu pandemic, though.

I was favorably impressed with a study done in Israel about the efficacy of Sambucol. At least, it's not expensive and won't hurt anything.
So, what should people do? In addition to the suggestions you've offered, I have a few more: If the pandemic strikes, and you can't avoid going out among people, wear disposable gloves (they don't have to be surgical or sterile.) You don't know who last touched that ... whatever (door knob, elevator button, etc.) Carry and use several pair, and learn how to take them off without touching the outsides (ask a medically trained individual to show you.) Keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes! If your hands become contaminated, don't transfer the virus to mucous membranes. Wash your hands often (and also, BEFORE and AFTER using public restrooms, then don't touch the door knob on the way out - use an extra paper towel.) Hand sanitizer gels are OK but plain soap and water is fine too. If nothing else is available, a 'dry wash' (vigorously rubbing your hands as though you were soaping them up) is surprisingly effective in removing the outer dead layer of skin cells that harbor virus particles or bacteria. It won't get rid of every single one (nothing will) but it's a matter of odds - the fewer, the better.
Teach everyone (especially the dear little germ transport mechanisms we call children) to cough into their elbow or armpit - NOT to cover their face with their hands (and then what?) or use a tissue (and then what?) And to wash their hands afterwards.
I can commend a medical blog that has an excellent article (and link to a free New England Journal of Medicine article) on avian flu: http://medpundit.blogspot.com/2005/10/flu-bug-variations-everyone-seems-to.html and
http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/353/13/1363 - Dr. November

Proviso from James Wesley, Rawles: I'm not a doctor, and I don't give medical advice. Mention of any medical device, treatment, drug, or food supplement is for educational purposes only. Consult your doctor before undertaking any treatment or the use of any drug, food supplement, or medical device. SurvivalBlog.com is not responsible for the use or misuse of any product mentioned.

Mr. Rawles:
You know when to start worrying, when a Government scientist says "There is no need to panic." The UK government is stockpiling 14.6 million doses of 'Tamiflu' (see the BBC article here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4344220.stm.

The question I have, after reading past posts on your site regarding AAV H5N1 flu, is whether there is any consensus on the appropriate medication/prevention supplement to get hold of, before everybody sells out? Especially, if anyone has specific sources in UK.

It may be that the advice from the Government will be to stay at home for an indeterminate length of time for the epidemic to 'blow over', do you have any info as to how long we should plan for, I've read 6 months? I plan to re think our family plans and start further building up of stores. I know it's probably in Patriots but for general info could you remind your readers on long term water storage and the ?one drop of bleach to one pint/litre of water? Thanks, - Bob

JWR Replies: The most effective treatment will probably be Sambucol. (See the preceding article.) With your labyrinthine National Heath Service bureaucracy, I don't know how you would obtain any in the UK. Perhaps through a private doctor. Or perhaps it is available without prescription in England.

Plan on "self quarantine" for a minimum of six months, and possibly as much as three years.

As for disinfecting water, the following advice come from the folks at Captain Tropic's: "Normal household bleach can be used to kill germs in water, but will not kill tuberculosis germs.  Regular household bleach is a solution of 5.25% Sodium Hypochlorite and 94.75% inert ingredients.  The bleach I want you to use should be standard household bleach with no extra whiteners, brighteners, or scents of any kind like lemon.  Many manufactures bleach labels state "not fit for human consumption", which is true (Does it need to be said? Ok, don't drink straight bleach!) Now if the only active ingredient in your bleach is Sodium Hypochlorite, it is suitable for water sterilization.  Here's how you do it.  Add 1/2 teaspoon to 5 gallons of water if it is clear (or 8 drops of chlorine bleach to each gallon of clear water) or 1 teaspoon to 5 gallons of water if the water is cloudy.  Allow your water to sit at least 30 minutes.  If water does not have a slight chlorine odor, repeat the dosage and let stand for 15 minutes." 

Hi Jim,
After reading Grampa R.'s post about making a ghillie suit I thought he, as well as other readers might be interested in knowing there is a company that makes custom ghillie suits. They are made with materials that reduces the thermal signature to almost nil. The burlap is dyed with a fire retardant and water repellent. Multiple colors of the burlap are layered to make it match your area of operation. The burlap is dyed in such a manner that it will appear to change color to blend with naturally surrounding foliage and/or regional terrain. This is the company that designed the roll-up ghillie and invented the thumb loops to keep sleeves in place. All suits come with thumb loops unless otherwise specified. These suits work so well they are regulated by the Department of State! They have custom made over 10,000 suits. They come with a 30 unconditional guarantee and a 2 year warranty against defects in workmanship. If one wants the best ghillie money can buy you won't go wrong. They also make ghillie covers for rifles. Custom Concealment, Inc.See: http://www.ghillie.com/index.htm.
Regards, - F1

"Government is not reason;  it's not eloquence;  it is force.  Like fire, it's a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Check out the new SurvivalBlog Classified Ads page! A 20 word ad (not counting contact information) is just $10 for two weeks. But be sure to read our Terms of Use before placing an ad.

Note from JWR: I will be a featured guest today (Saturday) on Dr. Geri Guidetti's web radio/shortwave radio show. The show airs at 1 p.m. Central Time (11 a.m. Pacific Time.) This two hour show will also be available via podcast. The Topic: Pandemics--family Preparedness. For details on how to hear the webcast live or on how to download it post facto, visit the Republic Radio web site: http://www.rbnlive.com.

Although climatologists are sharply divided as to long term global warming versus global cooling, there is some evidence of at least short term changes in climate. Consider the following "Hundred Year Forecast" from the pundits at LiveScience: http://www.livescience.com/forcesofnature/051013_stronger_storms.html However, you might just log this as "Food for Though and Grounds for Further Research" (FFTAGFFR), rather than as reliable data for making decisive relocation plans. I'm sorry to say that the jury is still out about global warming.

Here's my views on some of your more recent e-mail. Grandpa R. brought up some interesting things. First of all on the Ghillie suit, I don't recommend a poncho for the stereotypical work a Ghillie suit is used for. A Ghillie suit is a task and terrain specific uniform that's employed by specially trained folks. If you already have the training and field craft to use a ghillie suit correctly and effectively, then you already know the answer to the question. That answer isn't the poncho, it's the same one or two piece suit that every sniper from every nation uses. There's a reason they ALL use the same thing, and that's because it's the only thing that will does the job at that level of expertise. Jim's recommendation on the poncho is dead on for the survivalists who aren't graduates of a service branch's sniper qualification course. The poncho is a multi-use item, and that's always a plus. A great example of one is the German Zeltban. The Zelt can be used as a poncho, breaking up the outline of the human figure, as a "shelter quarter" to make a four-man tent, as a tarp to make an individual shelter, as a poncho for rain, etc. as an outer garment including various ways to configure it for walking, riding on horses/bicycles, etc. Many European countries used them right up until recently. Most are canvas, so they are quiet, though they are heavy. many are designed with summer foliage camouflage on one side, and winter on the other, though I've seen some that are just green and you can dye them whatever you want for your area. If I was going to use one in the desert, I'd make a copy of the Zelt in canvas with one side day desert and the other side night desert, and update the buttons, etc. If I was in the north, then woodland on one side, and a winter/fall on the other would be a better choice. You get the idea. A liner made from a GI poncho liner would also create a sleeping bag, and a field jacket. It's a phenomenal piece of kit. I can provide specs to anyone, just e-mail Jim and he'll let me know if it's something worth pursuing in the future for an installment on the Blog.
On gas masks and NBC, you have to remember not to equate Army NBC training and procedures with your's as a survivalist. You don't have the
logistics tail to make fighting and operating in contaminated environments a viable option. The best you can do is provide a limited amount of NBC protection that will allow you to egress a contaminated area. Changing filters when "in the soup" is not high on my list of things to do. High on that list is getting out of that area. Don't think "Army", think "survivalist". It's two different things. In a practical sense, you simply don't need a "dirty environment change" capability. You need a capability to protect yourself long enough to get to a clean environment. The mask filters will give you plenty of time to do that. Military operations in an NBC environment and survival operations in an NBC environment are two very different things. Equipment, individual tasks, et cetera are the same or similar, but they are conducted differently. That doesn't mean you're doomed if a gas bomb hits. You're never doomed if you prepare. But your actions as a survivalist will be different than your actions as a soldier on the battlefield would be.
On the subject of NVG/NODs. Older generation devices will exhibit what's called "bloom" effect. So a tritium night-sight would present a big softball sized glow on the end of your weapon. The later gen units greatly reduce the bloom effect, so what the effect is will greatly depend on the generation of the systems in use. Electrical tape will pretty much cure any noise and light problems at night.- "Doug Carlton"

"Grampa R." wrote in, asking about changing filters in a contaminated environment. I agree with you on the constant exhale method. I've also seen military NBC folks cover the opening after removing the filter while changing it to a new one. This seemed a little complicated to me, even with the other filter prepped for install. Also, this method would necessitate deconing your gloves or whatever you would use to cover the hole before covering the hole (or you would risk inhaling contaminant that might be on your gloves.) I like the method you described much better. It is always good to seek overhead protection before changing canisters if you are still receiving agent.
The M17 series of masks should be considered "Tier 2" masks in my opinion, due to the problems changing the filters in a contaminated environment.
Regarding masks and filters: Your mask has a series of valves that control intake and outlet. Hence, you should be alright to keep a filter installed in your mask as long as you keep the opening to the filter covered with something like duct tape. Roll one end of the duct tape well past the opening and make a small "handle" by putting it back on itself. Then when you don the mask all you need do is to pull the duct tape off the opening of the filter and your good to go. The inlet valve on the mask (which only works one way) and the tape covering the opening of the filter are keeping dust, pollen, etc. from getting into the filter. The older issue C2 filters came in a metal can that took approximately 1 minute to open. These are great for storage, but would take some time to open without practice. The new issue C2A1 come in a quick open plastic can type container. Very durable, I've stood on them to no effect. Micronell M95 filters are another good choice if you can't find C2A1s.
I encourage readers to learn symptoms of the various chemical agents as well as treatment. Hope this helps. - R.H.

I find I must disagree with you about Ghillies. In my opinion a poncho is a not a good idea for a Ghillie. My advice instead is to use a long "lab-coat" style jacket [as the starting point for constructing a Ghillie]. I bought mine for $10 at a surplus work-clothes store. Get a large one which will fit over your LBE without your pack. Dye it brown (or some other more tactical color) and cut the front of the coat in a U-shape from just above the belt-line and from the outer edge of the thigh (so the material on the sides just brushes the ground when you are on your belly), it should look like a set of "Tails" on a bizarre tuxedo. Get rid of the button closures too, replace them with velcro closures to get in and out of the suit fast. Then use camo-netting or fishnet to cover the coat completely across the back, arms (with an inch or two of excess) and a veil that goes over the head and down about half-way to the waist (so it can be used to cover your weapon.) Secure the net on the suit either by sewing it directly or by sewing on buttons and making button-holes in the netting (sewing directly is MUCH easier.) The burlap, rope, cloth pieces, etc. are then tied to the netting, completely across the back and the back and top of the veil with a small amount on the front of the veil itself. Add a pair of trousers with the back of the legs similarly covered and either sew strips to a pair of boots or make a pair of spats covered in strips. I also recommend covering the knees and elbow areas with heavy material to reduce wear and pad the joints when crawling.

The Ghillie suit is for laying down or crawling, so you cannot put a bunch of stuff on the front, nor can you crawl very well with material bunching up under your legs or needing to be secured so it doesn't get in your way. My version will cover what needs to be covered, it's not quite as hot as many versions, allows a degree of freedom of movement, and best of all is not covered in stiff, sticky, often flammable glue. A little spray-paint can be used to tone down bright spots and blend the colors better. Also a fire retardant is essential, all that burlap and cloth will go up like a month-old Christmas tree with the slightest spark.

One other note, [lining a ghillie suit with] mylar is a bad idea, a Ghillie suit is hot enough, adding mylar will have you broiling in your own juices in five minutes if you cover yourself in it and that's the only way to disguise your heat signature enough to matter. If you are worried about FLIR or other thermal detection, find an olive drab space-blanket or, even better, a "combat casualty blanket" which is a heavy padded version of a space-blanket, and convert it into a cover for you position.- Warhawke

"The real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The commonest kind of trouble is that it is
nearly reasonable, but not quite. Life is not an illogicality, yet it is a trap for logicians. It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its'
exactitude is obvious; but its' inexactitude is hidden; its' wildness lies in wait." - G. K. Chesterton

Friday, October 14, 2005

Our #1 Son and I are starting a classified advertisement section for Survival Blog. Click on the Classifieds button in the navigation bar to go to the Classifieds page and to see how to submit ads. (Quick and easy with PayPal.) Our classified ads are very affordable and reach a targeted audience of tens of thousands of preparedness-minded buyers. The categories include: Animals - Body Armor and Protective Gear - Books - Clothing - Electronic Gear - Firearms, Archery, and Knives - Crafts - Food Storage - Gifts - Investing - Medical - Miscellaneous - Networking/Survival Groups - Outdoor/Field Gear - Real Estate - Services - Tools, Traps, and Fishing - Vehicles - Water Purification

I often get e-mails from readers claiming either directly or indirectly that preparedness is "only for wealthy people"--that working class people cannot afford to prepare. That is nonsense. By simply re-prioritizing your budget and cutting out needless expenses (such as alcohol, cigarettes, convenience foods, and cable television) almost anyone can set aside enough money for a year's worth of storage food in fairly short order.

It is amazing what can be done with hard work, ingenuity, and very little money. While I do not endorse interloping on public lands nor do I suggest that you live like a hermit, the following stories are indicative of what can be accomplished with next to no cash.

First, here is an article about about a father and daughter that lived for four years undetected in a Portland, Oregon park:


Next a story about a hermit who secretly lived for at least three years inside the "secure" Los Alamos nuclear research reservation in New Mexico:


Next, an article about New York City's semi-apocryphal "Mole People":


I also vaguely recall in the early 1990s reading an article about a man who secretly built an underground house in parkland abutting the suburbs somewhere on the east coast. The house went undetected for several years. Its entrance was hidden in a berry thicket. He was only discovered because neighbors saw his comings and goings. When sheriff's deputies arrived to investigate, after much searching for the entrance, they entered the underground house just as the man was taking a shower in his bathroom. (Perhaps one of you readers saved the newspaper clipping or has a link to the news story.)

I recommend the book "The Last of the Mountain Men". It is the story of Sylvan Hart (a.k.a."Buckskin Bill"), a famous Idaho solitary who lived deep in a roadless section of the River of No Return Wilderness. His solution to his own unemployment during the Great Depression was to move to the wilderness and live self-sufficiently. The book describes how Hart lived from the 1930s to the 1970s. He mined and smelted his own copper, made his own muzzle loading rifles and pistols, and constructed his house and garden. It is a fascinating book.

And for someone with a "maxi" budget? Consider this: http://www.ultimatesecurehome.com/secure_home.htm

I didn't point out all of the preceding references because I want you to live like hermits or flee into the wilderness and live in a hollowed-out tree like the boy in My Side of the Mountain. Rather, I just want you to start thinking outside the box. Survival is 90% sweat, ingenuity, and perseverance. It is only the remaining 10% that requires cash.

Everyone agrees that the more self sufficient you are, the greater your personal freedom is. If you are making monthly payments for your mortgage, car loans, and to credit card companies, you are obligated to work so that you can pay those bills and your time is not your own. Your freedom is limited by your debts. But, if we are financially free, we can choose how to spend our time. And the freedom to use our time as we please is a goal worth striving for.
To that end, I will offer a few tips that are easy to incorporate into you spending habits which bring you closer to that goal. These are not earth shaking changes that will turn your world upside down. These are baby steps down the path to financial independence. But every penny that you can save increases your personal freedom. If you are not following any of them, by using these techniques you should save 10% on the purchases you make most often. That is the practical equivalent of getting a 10% raise. And who couldn’t use that?
No matter how much we do for ourselves, we spend some portion of our hard earned cash for the basic requirements of survival. You need food, shelter, and clothing. In addition, there are other items that you buy regularly which you can shop wisely for like over the counter medicines, pet food, and fuel. I’ll use groceries as the example for this issue, but you can apply the techniques to anything that you pay for regularly.
The first step is to get a firm idea of what the fair price of the item in question is. This is as easy as just noticing what you pay for each item as it goes in your grocery cart. Once you know what you normally pay, you will be able to recognize and take advantage of bargains, and avoid the pitfalls of false advertising and marketing schemes.
In store sales are often a good way to save money, but only if the price is less than you would normally pay. An offer to “buy one, get one free” is not a bargain if the first item has been marked up 100%. If the item in question is offered for sale for less than the normal price for two, then the sale is worth taking advantage of.
Similarly, you may be able to save a few dollars a month by using discount or mail in rebate coupons. In fact, if you are diligent at clipping and redeeming you can save quite a bit of money over time. But be careful. Because I tend to buy the cheaper brands and coupons are often for more expensive brands, I can rarely save money by making use of coupons. For example, a $3 box of cereal still cost less than a $5 box with a "$1.00 off "coupon.
Using coupons and taking advantage of sales should let you save a few dollars every trip to the grocery store. But real savings occurs when you have the ability to take advantage of bulk discounts. Let’s say that the “buy one, get one free” offer we discussed above is for a can of ravioli or soup that your family eats once a week. The can normally costs a dollar. So buying two cans for the price of one saves a dollar over buying two when they are not on sale. But canned food is fairly shelf stable. If the cans on sale are not near their “best used by” expiration date, consider buying as many as you can afford. If you bought $20 worth, you would save $20 that you would normally spend over the next five months. By buying one can a week you would normally spend $40 over 40 weeks (5 months.) But by buying the same amount of food for $20 because it is on sale at half price, you save $20. That is like someone putting an extra $20 in your pocket. Sure you might get an odd look from the cashier when you put 40 cans of the same thing on the checkout counter, but is it worth an odd look to get $20? It is to me. When I find pasta on sale at three pounds for a $1 or less, I buy 30 pounds. It is shelf stable, and it gives me the peace of mind of not only knowing that I have saved at least 50% vs. buying it one box at a time, but also that my family won’t starve if times of shortage or financial hardships arrive.
“Buy one get one free” deals don’t happen as often as we’d like, but 25% off sales do happen frequently. Even if the sale is only 25% off the normal price, the same $20 spent would save you $5. Why not save $5?
The last tip I will offer this month is one that should only be used by people with strong self discipline. It can be downright financially dangerous if you can’t control yourself. But if you have the will power to do it, it is literally free money. Your secret to tool for free money is … a credit card. But not the cash advance feature!
Many credit cards offer cash back rebates on money spent. Discover card established itself by paying back a percentage of money spent in Sears’ store credit. Today many credit card companies offer store credit or cash back options. Most are 1% back on dollars charged with additional bonuses for using your card at certain retailers. My credit card pays back a straight 1% on all purchases made. I put my grocery bills, gasoline expenses, and anything else I can pay by credit card through that account. As a result they pay me $10 for every $1,000 spent. This is free money actually earned (not just saved.)
Now here is the dangerous part. You must pay the balance off every billing cycle. If you do not pay off the credit card (in full) each month, you will be charged interest on the balance and it is 100% certain that the interest due will exceed the cash back rebate earned. But if you have the self discipline to only use the credit card for expenses that you would normally pay cash for and to pay off the balance every billing cycle you can actually make money using a credit card. At $10 cash back per month you earn $120 per year. $120 will buy a lot of groceries when a god sale comes along! In addition, using the credit card for routine purchases makes balancing the check book a whole lot easier when you only write one check each month.
So there you have it - five steps toward financial freedom: learn what a fair price is; take advantage of sales; mail in rebates and other coupons; save money by stocking up with bulk buying discounts; and if you have the self discipline to pay off your credit card each month, take advantage of cash back rebates. These techniques will let you save and earn a portion of every purchase you make, and every penny saved or earned is a step closer to your financial freedom! - Mr. Yankee

FYI, I have dealt with Don Stott of www.coloradogold.com. Don is an honest man and has prices competitive with the best dealers I have found. There will be no excitement in dealing with him...call him, he answers the phone, takes your order, and when your money arrives your product is shipped pronto. - Bruce A.

"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add "within the limits of the law" because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." - Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Dear James,
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my questions. I know there are hundreds of letters that come in. My brother Paul in Seattle and my "adopted son" John in Iraq are daily readers. I am building a ghillie suit. Would you suggest a poncho or a coat with an extension to cover the legs? I also plan on lining the suit with mylar or similar heat hiding material. On the subject of gas masks. I have Israeli military units for me and my wife. I have M17 models for back up or friends. Can you tell me how someone can change both cheek filters in an M17 in a tactical situation and survive. Even the standard spin-on can my other two have would let in poison if you changed it in the field. Lastly I am considering moving from Phoenix to the Tombstone area. How do you feel about that area? Thanks again, - Grampa R.

JWR Replies:

Regarding Ghillie Suits: I recommend a poncho, because they are the most versatile. They are also best in hot climates. (Coverall-type ghillie suits are sweltering in hot climates.) Because you can bundle up the front of the poncho when high crawling, I've found that poncho hangs up on brush less than a traditional ghillie made out of BDUs or coveralls. Although I can't imagine that you'd be crawling around much in Cholla cactus country!

Regarding Protective Masks: There is no way to change filters in an M17-style ("cheek filter") mask in a contaminated environment. The only practical way to change them is inside of a sealed room, after going through a transition room with decontamination shower. And even then, that takes about 10 minutes of tugging on those blasted plastic filter retainer buttons. It is simply a lousy design. (Off on a tangent, I can remember laughing out loud when I saw a picture of the Soviet copy of the M17 mask for the first time. ("Ha ha, fool! You've fallen for one the classic blunders! The best well known is 'Never get involved in a land war in Asia.'... ") The difficulties that I cited are the main reasons why the U.S. military switched back to screw-on filter canisters for their NBC masks. The latter, BTW, can be changed in a contaminated environment by exhaling during the canister swap. (The only exception would be a very contaminated area, where you would probably be dead anyway, due to suit leakage.) OBTW, JRH Enterprises has the best prices that I've found for mask components including screw-on filter canisters.

Regarding Southern Arizona: The Tombstone area is typical for the terrain and hydrology of the region, and hence doesn't have a lot going for it. If you must stay in southern Arizona, you are better off in the edge of the Chiracahua or Huachuca mountain ranges where there is some surface water. Go take a look at Ramsey Canyon and Garden Canyon, (both are east of Sierra Vista.) You will be amazed! BTW, there are similar verdant canyons elsewhere on the periphery of the Chiracahua and Huachuca ranges. If you haven't ever taken the drive through the Chiracahua over to Portal (near the New Mexico state line), I recommend it. There is some private land in that region. I recommend that you talk to real estate agents in Sierra Vista and Bisbee. Tell them that you are looking for a place with a year-round spring and are willing to wait until one comes on the market A place with a well will suffice (with a photovoltaic-powered pump system, as sold by Solarjack, but that is a poor second choice compared to a reliable spring.

I highly recommend a TV show called Survivor Man. It is on the Science Channel on Direct TV it is Channel 284 on my unit, and it comes on Friday Nights. This fellow goes into the wild and stays seven days in different locations without much in the way of supplies. He shows some pretty decent survival techniques. Fire starting, water locating, food sources etc. He has done everything from the Arctic to Deserts. I find it quite informative and it may be of use to some other readers as well. I just thought I would pass it along. - Jerry

Mr. Rawles,
First let me say that I love the blog. Also, your book ("Patriots") is my all time favorite fictional survival book. You will have to give us an update on when the new edition with extra chapters is due out.
A little background on myself, for the past few years I have been flying helicopters in support of a military survival school in the Northwest. I average a handful of night flights each month and when we fly we use current issue NVG’s. We normally fly at 300 feet above the ground and have little to no cultural lighting (city lights) as we are over National Forest lands. For this reason I would consider the amount of light we fly with to be similar to a TEOTWAWKI scenario (no cultural lights.)
Now I would like to add some thoughts about the tritium sight thread from Monday. The benefits associated with tritium sights definitely outweigh any disadvantages. I consider your comments on tritium sights to be correct for worst case. By that I mean you would get the penlight in the face effect (we call it "raccoon eyes") if you were operating in an unlit building, in a cave, or possibly outside on a very overcast and moonless night with no cultural background lights. Tritium sights should not be overlooked when trying to decrease your tactical profile but I personally would not excessively worry about them. Like yourself, I would use a full flap holster and that would be the extent of my mitigation. To give some perspective on light sources in a different situation, I remember flying a couple weeks ago with a full moon and having a hard time seeing an IR (infrared) strobe. And we had to request the IR strobe after being unable to identify a group in which an individual was swinging a chemical light stick attached to a 2 foot cord around in a circle. I would like to point out to your readers that wearing their own set of NVGs would give them a much greater light profile (very bright raccoon eyes) than tritium sights would. NVGs are a huge force multiplier and I don’t recommend going without them but when they are used they should primarily be used to scan and only for a short duration.
Two things that I would be more concerned about are fire and light discipline. As far as fire goes, even a fire that has no visible flames really pops out when viewed on NVG’s. That is because the goggles sensitivity peaks near the red/ IR spectrum of light. If you must have a fire, bury any left over embers and move far away when you are done. Like I said, goggles really pick up red and IR lights. Brake lights can be seen for miles and those red filters used on flashlights to read maps are almost just as bad. Get rid of the red filters and carry a blue/green filter instead. The blue/ green filter allows you to maintain your night vision while offering a slightly smaller light profile than the same flashlight in plain white.
Regards, - The Northwest Helo Pilot

Hi Jim and Memsahib:
Many people cannot possibly move west of the Mississippi. I think everyone wants to make an educated assessment of where they live in relation to preparing for whatever may happen. Regardless of the energy and thought we put into planning, there seems to be one or many things we either leave out or have not considered. For example, how many have taken into consideration if there is a germ facility or chemical weapons lab near their prized spot? There are also terrorists cells among us as well as major terrorists organizations. Knowing their targets whether they be infrastructure, military, national landmarks or vulnerable cities should be considered in our plans. I recommend that Prudent Places USA CD-ROM. It covers six main areas: Natural Disasters, Manmade Disasters, Environmental Basics, Environmental Problems, Energy, People and Places. Within these chapter headings, one has access to 69 main topics, plus additional sub-topics and maps to a county level--all 3,141 of them. Maps are very large and must be presented in CD-ROM format. If there is a safer place in your county or state these maps will point them out. The maps can be printed on transparencies and overlaid for a defining view of areas of interest. This is one of the most comprehensive accumulation of data covering almost every topic of interest for choosing a prudent place I have come across. David from Israel so eloquently illustrated the mindset of most who prepare. Generally speaking, we tend not to think of having to leave our retreat. We all should have at least two backup plans in place. Prudent Places USA is an invaluable aid in planning localities, roads, everything one can imagine and more. See: http://www.millennium-ark.net/Our_Books/PPusa/next.htm Regards, - F1

I'm interested in discussing topics with like-minded folks. If this can't be done, do you have any favorite forums? - C.D.R.

JWR Replies: I'm sorry to report that I have neither the time nor the patience to moderate a forum. (I moderated one for Dr. Gary North back in the late 1990s, and it quickly degenerated into a "flame war", with far more flame posts than serious posts on preparedness.)

I recommend that anyone who is interested sign up at The Claire Files and start frequenting the "Gulching/Self-Sufficiency" Forum. You might start out with a thread titled: "SurvivalBlog Readers--Check In!"

Yes, I know that there are lots of other forums out there, but the biggest advantage of The Claire Files is that you can sign up anonymously.

"It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark." - Howard Ruff

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

In my most recent radio "round table" interview on pandemics, Dr. Geri Guidetti (the host) mentioned some interesting web sites:

http://www.farmersadvance.com --Some scary statistics on America's food supply. It is no longer measured in weeks.

http://www.effectmeasure.com -- Useful information on the Asian Avian Flu.(But decided leftward leaningand anti-Christian!)

http://www.fluwikie.com -- More useful information on the Asian Avian Flu.

http://www.curevents.com -- A general current events forum, currently with several discussions on pandemics.

http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/ -- Site for the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (still more useful information on the Asian Avian Flu.)

OBTW, if you missed hearing the webcast live, you can download it post facto, by visiting the Republic Radio web site: http://www.rbnlive.com. Look for the archive of the Geri Guidetti show for Saturday, October 8th.

I agree with you 100% that by far the West (Far West) is the best survival locale, but I am one of those East Coast survivors. If I really wanted to I would move West (I'm of the mindset that anyone can do anything they really want to do, they just have to WANT it bad enough), then I probably would. I won't go into all the excuses people normally use when you tell them to relocate.

Something that ought to be considered as well is proximity to like minded friends and family members. I "could" move out West but if I did I would lose a support network that I have worked almost 20 years to develop. To go from having a reliable support network to being a lone family survivalist is a frightening thought, no matter how secure the new locale is.

Suffice it to say, everyone that cannot or will not move West (I'm reminded of the old Westerns--"Go West young man!") absolutely must develop a working Group or network of like minded friends and family members who they can rely on when the times comes.

Also, I would prompt every survivalist on the East side of the Mississippi to work towards developing a fallout shelter. This could be as simple as a trench shelter with two 90 degree turns for entrances. Cover the trench with railroad ties, a couple of layers of plastic and 3' feet of earth and you have a basic shelter you can improve over time.

The downsides of living on the East Coast are many--higher population, more nuclear targets, closer to seat of government, etc. It's important also for people to realize that living away from the cities when TSHTF is more important that having 10 years of freeze dried food. No one single move can yield more towards your survival than moving away from the cities (save for accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior.)

Now is the time to cash out of homes that have appreciated in value greatly in the last couple of years. $100,000 will still buy some land and build you a modest home in most areas of the countryside, especially here in the South.

Those thinking they will just bug out at the last minute have to realize the first warning they may get is seeing the mushroom cloud over their city. - Mr. Lima

Dear Jim,
In response to the letter from the Californian with aspirations on returning to western Pennsylvania, is he in for a shock. We have become, due to really short sighted thinking, the net importer of garbage for the east coast. Western and central Pa. have become the waste center for Maine, New York (city and state), New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Ohio, West Virginia, and many other locales. We put toxic waste in our soils and act like if can not see it, it will go away. Nature always bats last. The ground water and water table will become polluted beyond use when we will need it most. This waste is not limited to household garbage, but also medical waste. Have a glass of HIV, on me. Just because one does not see or smell the pollution, does not mean it is not there. I would NOT recommend Pennsylvania for this reason alone. Do not forget the close proximity to large urban areas also. I totally agree with you on anywhere past the west of Mississippi. Keep up the good work. - C.D.

Joel Skousen writes in his book “The Secure Home” that a gravel-filled wall is better than concrete, for an exterior wall or an interior safe room. While persistent impacts will drill a hole in concrete, they will have no effect on gravel, except for slight settling and spillage, generating a gap only at the very top where protection is not needed. Gravel (1/2 to 3⁄4 inch, presumably fragmented and not rounded pea gravel) will deflect and destroy most rounds, unlike sand, which merely slows most rounds. In his book “The Secure Home”, Skousen advises using 5/8-inch or 3⁄4- inch plywood sheets screwed to both sides of steel studs to contain the gravel. (Wood being essentially 2 inch gaps that are transparent to many types of rounds.) Skousen also speculates that a hollow heavy steel door could be filled with gravel. - Mr. Bravo

JWR Replies: "Skousen Walls" do work well, and I recommend them for anyone that wants to do a "Harder Homes and Gardens" upgrade to an existing wood frame house. A couple of years ago, I got a briefing and a slide show from a friend that did some actual shooting tests with up to 12 gauge slugs on dummied-up wall sections. (He expended over 400 rounds in the tests.) He proved that 3/4-inch plywood walls filled with "Three quarter minus" road rock gravel (rough crushed rock that has been screened to be 3/4-inch or smaller) works best for a Skousen Wall. And Mr. Skousen is correct that a wall filled with just small pea gravel or sand will drain like an hourglass after a number of large caliber rounds impact inside a 6" radius.

And as for ballistically protecting doors and windows, there is no substitute for mass. As mentioned in my novel, I recommend using five stacked thicknesses of 1/4-inch steel plates. (These thinner plates are much easier and safer to maneuver for construction than a single one inch thick plate.) Yes, we are talking about a lot of weight. (See my novel Patriots for a handy formula for determining the weight of plate steel.) Hinges must be sized accordingly, so plan on using vault door hinges. BTW, the hinge support for this kind of weight, requires either a 6 inch I-beam post with an anchor bolt footing or a fully reinforced masonry wall (with a grid work of re-bar) supplemented with a 1/4 inch plate that is at least 4 inches wide, running vertically.) If you aren't mechanically inclined and are willing to pay a bit more, you could of course also by a commercially made vault door.

Lastly, regardless of the door design that you choose, keep in mind that a "decorative" 20 inch thick masonry wall +/-6 feet forward of your front door is cheap insurance that your front door won't come under rifle fire from looters except up close and personal. (And then they'll probably be reluctant to subject themselves to ricochets.) BTW make sure that the wall is at least three times the width of your door. For those of you on a budget: Buy a lot of sandbags. They are sometimes available through military surplus stores, but the best way to buy them is to bid on a lot at a DRMO surplus auction. BTW, DRMO auctions are also a great place to pick up concertina wire at near scrap metal prices.

Intro From JWR: I've received more than 10 e-mails from folks on three continents about using elderberry extract for treating influenzas. However, I was reluctant to print any of them until now. I guess I was being overly cautious, because in the just past day I got two letters that cited clinical studies rather than hearsay:

Hello Jim,

I've been a believer in the effectiveness of an Israeli-made extract called "Sambucol" for a number of years. My seat-of-the-pants reaction is that it definitely does ward off colds/flu. The following is from the manufacturer:

Effect of Sambucol® on several strains of Influenza virus.
Sambucol®, a standardized extract, is a preparation based on the berries of the Black Elder, used as herbal remedy for influenza virus infections. It contains a potent antiviral compound, AntiVirin® as well as a high amount of three flavonoids (Bronnum-Hansen and Hansen, 1983.) The flavonoids are naturally occurring plant antioxidants.
Laboratory tests:
Sambucol® was shown to reduce hemagglutination and inhibited replication of human influenza virus type A, type B and animal strains from swine and turkeys in cell cultures.
Clinical Study:
A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study was conducted during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. A significant improvement of the symptoms, including fever, was seen in 93.3% of the cases in the Sambucol® treated group within 2 days. A complete cure was achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the Sambucol® treated group and within at least 6 days in the placebo group. "Inhibition of Several Strains of Influenza Virus in Vitro and Reduction of Symptoms by an Elderberry Extract (Sambucus nigra L) during an Outbreak of Influenza B Panama", Z. Zakay-Rones et al. J. Alt Compl Med 1995;1:361-369.

Second clinical study on flu
In a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study conducted in Norway, Sambucol® was shown to significantly reduce the duration of the flu by approximately four days. The use of rescue medication (pain relievers, etc.) was significantly less in the group receiving Sambucol® than in the placebo group. "Randomized study on the efficacy and safety of an oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections" Thom Erling & Therje Wollan, J. Int. Med. Res., 2004;32(2):132-140.

Sambucol has been the subject of two double-blind tests, both of which confirmed its efficacy. See:

I can also attest to its ability to stop flu in its tracks from personal experience. It works if one takes it at the first sign of flu symptoms. We also make our own elderberry extract, and it works as well. - D.M.

Another reader sent this useful link from the NIH:

Mr. Rawles:
What is a good source for pre-1965 junk silver coins?

JWR Replies: I recommend that you call for prices from several coins shops in your local area. Because a $1,000 face value "junk silver" bag weighs 55 pounds, insured shipping is problematic. So it is advisable to buy locally, but definitely shop around for the best price! As previously mentioned, buying bags of pre-1965 dimes is best for barter. If you don't have any nearby coins shop and don't mind paying for the freight, contact the folks at Swiss America Trading. They are very reputable.

"Perhaps you’ve heard the one about the 700 firefighters from various states who volunteered to do rescue work following Hurricane Katrina? They sat in a hotel room in Atlanta for days getting sexual harassment training from Federal Emergency Management Agency officials. No joke. Note to Republicans eager to shovel new money at federal agencies: This is how government works." - Columnist Mona Charen

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I'm still looking for more entries for the writing contest. The prize is a transferable four day course certificate, good for any course at Front Sight!

For years I have listened to survivalists of two sorts muse about the days after TEOTWAWKI. One is the "grasshopper" type, with a decked out M1A, full pack, and plans to live off of berries and venison. The "ant" on the other hand has saved up and purchased a nice cabin maybe a stock of fuel a nice 4x4 vehicle and some food storage, he likely even has a good solar or generator setup for power and light. Let's fast forward five years... Now where are both of these people?

Grasshopper had a pack of food, a wad of cash and gold a mountain bike some camping gear, weighed himself down with a heavy rifle and lost same crossing a
river, but fortunately bugged far enough that he could find work as a migrant farm worker working for food and a place in the barn at night, he will likely not
find a better job and if wise will be happy he survived the worst. What he did avoid:
*Becoming a starving food rioter in town
*Dying in the woods when he realizes that the game is hunted out mid winter and the scurvy was kicking in
*Shot on sight for armed crossing of private or "Claimed" public lands
*Stripped of gear and turned out

What were grasshoppers plusses?
*Mobility even on plugged roads
*Mobility of mind--he is not tied [psychologically] to a location
*Can hop boxcars, cargo ships or a first class seat on a 747 and ride out to a better place

Ant lived happily off of stored food and solar electricity. Ant was a little older and stiff but the money he and wife saved by having one son who moved far away helped him afford a nice retreat. Sadly as the supplies dwindled they realized that their location while scenic was not irrigable out of their hand pump well and they had no knowledge or equipment
on how to rebuild the failed battery array to get the power back to a larger pump. Fortunately a young grasshopper fleeing agents of a new power in the adjoining country came seeking refuge after his first landlord was killed, and was able to pull a plough in exchange for a place to rest at night and a share in the crop.

What the ant did avoid:
*Raider/looters/masses of beggars
*Having the initial emergency be of the type that destroys his retreat
*Starvation after initial supplies ran out
*Stripped of home and gear, turned out

Ant's Plusses
*Defined and recognized ownership of property
*Large stockpile of food and comforts
*No question where to go for refuge
*Coordination with neighbors and friends

Why such dark scenarios? I must point out that we are living at the pinnacle of human civilization. if we fall it is unlikely we will ever see a revival of the fine goods and selection we have now. The tents will wear out, the gadgets will get old and malfunction. You must be ready to run away possibly to the ends of the world to find a resting place. You must find a community with long reach that can help you if the move to safety is required. Realize the gear has a limited lifetime and value, be ready to dump your precious stuff for a better shot at life. (Yes this means dumping the battle rifle if it means a chance to stow away on a cargo ship to a peaceful region) Your retreat may not be the perfect place to survive,
if you must ditch it, don't look back. Survival has much more to do with your trust in G-d and knowledge of survival than your special gear.

Consider the following improvised survival/travel kit:
*Shower liner - tent/tarp/rain gatherer/sleep-bag wrap
*Crisco and dryer hose lint - fire starter, candle/stove fuel,
*Cardboard - fuel, ground pad, wick for can stove
*Steel/aluminum cans - cookware, parts for liquid or solid fuel stoves and grilles
*New smoke detectors contain a 9VDC lithium cell which when paired with the right power LED can give months or years of short burst lighting (try using multiple LEDs in series to avoid burning them out)
*Any cheap bag or tote when put over the shoulder with a stick like a hobo is better than no pack at all
*Kitchen knives are better than no knife at all
*Disposable butane lighters are like gold
*Polar Fleece, wool, or Poly blankets can substitute for sleeping bag in a pinch.
*Water and pop bottles are valuable to keep you hydrated keep drinking water

The preceding list is to give you ideas and reassure you that while you may lose the best gear money can buy, at some point stuff is replaceable by other stuff. One location is also replaceable by another. If Arizona gets too dry go to Alaska, is Alaska too cold, sail for New Zealand, etc. Never relax and expect a retreat or pack of stuff to protect you, only G-d can do that, and there is no promise of survival to a nice 70-80 years of age anywhere in the Bible. Pack your mind with knowledge and don't let your stuff stand in they way of your surviving.

Mr Rawles,
I saw the letter you posted asking about the ballistic protection afforded by common building materials. I did some experimenting on this topic, testing the protection of concrete-filled blocks against a number of common calibers. You can see my findings here:
http://www.clairewolfe.com/wolfesblog/00001296.html and here: http://www.clairewolfe.com/wolfesblog/00001404.html
Even 8 inches of concrete offers only temporary protection from rifle ammunition (though it's quite good against pistol fire.) For info on other materials, you might direct folks to: http://www.theboxotruth.com/ - Ian

I am getting a real education on this Blog. Thank you. We all witnessed the breakdown of civilization during the aftermath of Katrina. I disagree with the possibility of Charlottesville or anywhere near Charlottesville being any sort of safe haven in a real emergency. I-64 Leads directly to Staunton, VA. We know here that we are essentially a target for millions of uncivilized terrified people. If the east coast of VA needed to evacuate, we know the Shenandoah Valley would be inundated. And Charlottesville stomped into the ground on the way. I also know that the Lord God is our first line of defense. He will take care of his own. But our responsibility is to prepare physically while in this physical body. Somehow our family has been moved to acquire the talents and education to cover most areas of life on earth. We have ended up with military, police, RN, hunter with extensive survival knowledge, engineer, legal, preacher, mechanic etc. All immediate family. Now we really do need a place of refuge. Somehow we in Staunton feel the need to establish a place. With all it's pitfalls, we are looking into West VA. - A.J.E.

Dear Mr. Rawles:
I read A. Microbiologist's comments today on Tamiflu becoming resistant to Avian Flu and I wanted to attach a link from Canada.com disputing that contention: http://www.canada.com/health/story.html?id=81201e24-9e91-4287-833b-9da02ff083ac
Regards, - C.P.

JWR Replies: Thanks for sending that along. OBTW, I've had several e-mails from folks with rumored herbal remedies for influenza. Do any SurvivalBlog readers have any clinical data on any efficacious herbal remedies? I'm not looking for "I heard from a friend that..." Rather, I'm looking for concrete double blind test data

Hello Jim,
My work requires a fair number of road trips during the January to May time periods each year. Should the balloon go up while I am away from the homestead, I could be facing a 1,000 mile waltz to reach home and hearth. My first choice will be to use the vehicle and cut the distance as much as I can. If forced to travel on foot, I give myself every advantage, carrying the following supplies in the vehicle:

Waterproof, insulated, COMFORTABLE hunting boots
COMFORTABLE walking shoes
Extra socks
Insulated long underwear
Wool shirts
Gore-tex BDU pants, and hooded coat
Latex gloves

Winter sleeping bag and waterproof cover
Small tarps for ground cover and jiffy shelter
Parachute cord
Multi tool
Small flashlight (The Surelite Survival Lite from Cabela's is a great choice)
Extra batteries
.22 rifle, pistol and ammo
Fire starter
Survival candles
Inflatable PFD for crossing rivers and streams
Waterproof bag
First aid kit
Mending tape
Insect repellent
Signal mirror
"Camping and Woodcraft" by Horace Kephart (Makes for good reading and full of survival tips.)
Highway maps for every state I will have to pass thru

Trav-L-Pure water purifier
Mess kit, utensils and cup
Collapsible water bottle
Dozen or so MRE main meal [entree] packages
Instant coffee
Hard candy

Most everything is packed inside zip lock bags and then placed inside the backpack. Weight is a big consideration, hence the small caliber firearms, tarps instead of tent, etc.

Given that my trips are generally to the same areas each year, I have placed a number of caches along anticipated routes home. These caches are nothing major. Just an ammo can with a couple pairs of socks, pouches of freeze dry food, coffee, matches, etc... Just items that would be morale boosters along the way. Being far from home in an emergency may be something I can't avoid, but being out there unprepared would be inexcusable and perhaps fatal.

Keep the Faith, - Dutch in Wyoming

"We've arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology.   We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology.  This is a prescription for disaster.   We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces." - Dr. Carl Sagan

Monday, October 10, 2005

I've had several responses to my request for comments on potential retreat locales in the eastern U.S. (See below.) Many Thanks, Folks!

This area occupies the most prosperous county in Nevada (this statistic is skewed by Lake Tahoe basin residents in the county), and is an agricultural valley (mostly beef ranching) generally surrounded by mountain ranges. Just south of Carson City (the state capitol, population 50,000) it offers ideal off-the-grid solar climate with ample Sierra snow melt feeding the Carson River and sustaining aquifers. The county building department is a relatively non-intrusive rubber stamp, and the public schools have significantly higher academic standards than the norm. Douglas County is among the most conservative in Nevada, with registered Republicans outnumbering Democrats two-to-one. Residents are happy with the healthy, growing economy, but are worried about the effects of growth on their way-of-life (the 2% annual growth rate is less than half that of Las Vegas.) Concentrate on small towns on or near the Carson River such as Minden, Gardnerville, and Genoa. (About one third of the county’s 42,000 residents live in these towns.) Note, however, the desirability of these towns has driven up real estate prices steeply, and acreage becomes only somewhat affordable at a significant distance from town. Adjacent counties farther from Reno and Lake Tahoe (such as the Yerington area) may offer more attractive values.
Statistics (for Minden):
Average high temperature in August: 90.9
Average low temperature in January: 16.7
Growing season: 125 days.
Average snowfall in January: 5.8”
County Median residential home price: $134,275 (and rising fast!)
County Average Annual Property tax (% of assessed value): 0.74% to 1.08%, depending on district.
Advantages: More plentiful water than elsewhere in Nevada. Sunny climate for solar heat and power. Plenty of firewood compared to most of Nevada. More agriculture than elsewhere in Nevada, especially beef ranching.
Disadvantages: Downwind from nuclear targets in California. High-priced real estate. Like Wyoming, it may be ideal only for high-income earners attracted by the lack of income tax, who can afford extra preparedness costs (and the expensive real estate.) Continental climate. Proximity to California, although the Sierra Nevada range presents a formidable, defensible boundary. (Rumor has it that 50 years ago, Nevada’s civil defense plans included defending the mountain passes against post-nuclear California refugees.)

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

Grid Down Retreat Potential: 7 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Nuclear Scenario Retreat Potential: 7 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Thanks to Mike, a SurvivalBlog reader in Eastern Washington, who alerted me to this article on Peak Oil:

I just heard that Global Solar flexible amorphous photovoltaic (PV) power panels (See: http://www.308systems.com/) are now available through Ready Made Resources. Amorphous PV panels are superior to he monocrystaline for many applications. Their greatest advantage is that they allow "graceful degradation." A bullet hole through a monocrystaline panel usually means that it is history. A comparable hole through an amorphous panel (depending on how its individual cells are wired) usually means just a 5% loss in power. Be advised, however, that monocrystaline panels have an almost indefinite useful life, whereas amorphous panels lose some of their efficiency over time.

I enjoy your blog. In response to the Thursday, October 6 entry on sources of open-pollinated seed, here is an excellent source of quality seeds that have yielded very good results for me. They will send a free catalog if you e-mail them: http://www.turtletreeseed.com/

What are your thoughts regarding tritium nights sights giving away your position to someone using Gen III or better night vision? - Gung-Ho

JWR Replies: Thanks, Gungie, you raised an important point! Even first generation starlight (electronic light amplification) devices can detect the illumination of tritium sights. For someone looking at you through a starlight scope or NVGs, if you are holding a pistol in your hands that is equipped with fresh tritium sights, then it will give the same visual impression as if you had a penlight shining in your face. If holstered, this usually isn't an issue, depending on the holster design. (This is one reason I like the versatile Bianchi UM-84 holster.When I carry a handgun as a backup to a long gun, I use the Bianchi with the full flap installed. This completely covers the rear sight. When out berry picking in bear country, I remove the flap and use just the "thumb break" retention strap.) For rifles, a tritium front sight post can be quickly shrouded to almost "zero out" its light signature--typically with a short length of black plastic house wiring insulation. I prefer this method because the front sight is still usable--albeit degraded--in a pinch.

Dear Jim:
Congratulations on your blog's tremendous success! I will continue to pray to Yahweh for your continued blessings. I have a few questions on the weapons topic that I would appreciate your learned response on.

1.) I certainly understand your opinion on the .223 round, but for those of us that currently possess weapons chambered in .223 what type and load of .223 would you recommend? Are you familiar with the Hornady 60 gr. Spitzer cartridge?

2.) What manufacturers and types of rounds do you recommend for the .45 ACP? Are you familiar with the Hornady FMJ flat-point?

3.) Do you recommend any soft point or hollow points for .223 or .45ACP?

4.) I am storing some rifles for barter and trade; do you suggest a silicon sock for fire prevention?

5.) What types and models of scopes do you suggest?

As always thank you for your excellent insights. B'shem Yahshua Moshiach, -Dr. Sidney Zweibel, Columbia P&S

JWR Replies:
1.) I do not generally recommend .223 hollow-points because most of them are designed with thin jackets for instant expansion. That makes them very well-suited to prairie dog hunting, but not for hunting two-legged varmints! Buy hollow points only if they have thick jackets. I have not tested the Hornady 60 grain Spitzer, so I cannot make an informed judgment about it. My recommended "group standard" load for 5.56mm is the NATO SS-109 62 grain FMJ load. However, keep in mind that it takes a tight rifling twist to properly stabilize bullets heavier than 55 grains. ( 1 turn in7" or a 1-in-9" twist.) Many of the early AR-15s and Mini-14s have long rifling twists (typically 1-in-12") and hence they are only suitable for 55 grain projos.

2.) The CCI "Lawman" .45 ACP 200 grain hollow point is excellent and quite favorably priced. My buddy Fred The Valmet-meister refers to them as "the flying ashtrays " because of their cavernous hollow points. They expand very reliably. The Winchester Silvertip and Golden Saber, and the Federal Hydrashok are also excellent .45 ACP loads. One key proviso: be sure to test fire several boxes of any potential new load to confirm both accuracy and reliable feeding. DO NOT buy in quantity until you find a load that functions smoothly, with ZERO failures to feed or failure to eject. I would much rather carry a pistol loaded with ammo with an inferior bullet design (even full metal jacket "ball") that feeds 100% then I would with some "awesome expander" than only feeds 98% of the time. It is the 2% of rounds that jam that may get you killed!

The Hornady FMJ flat-point feeds just as well as round-nosed 230 grain ball in my M1911s.

3.) Again, I do NOT recommend .223 hollow-points. (See #1, above.) For .45 ACP, see #2, above.

4.) Silicon-treated "socks" or "sleeves" work well, assuming that a gun is properly cleaned and well-oiled. Storing guns in most other types of gun cases is sure way to induce rust. However, depending on the humidity of your climate, you may have to take more elaborate protective measures. Install a Golden Rod brand dehumidifier in each gun storage space. You will of course also want to also protect all of your guns from burglars. I recommend buying a large gun vault (or vaults), bolting them to the floor, and preferably hiding them behind false walls. That will deter all but a master criminal.

5.) I prefer tritium lit scopes. For 5.56mm semi-autos, I like the Trijicon TA-01-NSN. For .308s semi-auto MBRs, I prefer the Trijicon TA-11E with a .308 cam and either the "donut of death" or the chevron reticle. (Try each type before you buy.)

"We loved a great many things--birds and trees and books and all things beautiful and horses and rifles and children and hard work and the joy of life." ---Theodore Roosevelt

Sunday, October 9, 2005

I've had several responses to my request for comments on potential retreat locales in the eastern U.S. (See below.) Many Thanks, Folks!

This mountainous region of northern Arizona (Navajo County) http://www.co.navajo.az.us/ is becoming popular with retirees.
Statistics (for Show Low):
Average high temperature in August: 83.7.
Average low temperature in January: 22.7.
Growing season: No precise data, just “Short.”
Average snowfall in March: 17.8”.

Advantages: Well removed from the high crime rate regions of southern Arizona.

Disadvantages: Downwind from nuke targets in California.

Grid Up Retreat Potential: 3 (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: 7 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Cipro is an antibiotic, as such it is only useful for bacterial infections. If you developed pneumonia during the course of the flu infection Cipro might be an okay choice. From what I have read most people that die from avian flu are dying from respiratory failure far before they would get pneumonia. Recommending Tamiflu is a better choice but resistant strains to this are emerging, and this is the most common stockpiled drug so more resistance is likely to occur. Relenza is an even better option, but it is much more expensive. I would recommend that all your readers, (and you) read or re-read the pamphlet on influenza you liked to the other day I thought it was very good primer on influenza and its treatment. - A. Microbiologist


Letter Re: Ballistic Protection of Building Materials (SAs: Retreat Security, Retreat Architecture, Ballistic Protection, Ballistic Upgrades, Harder Homes and Gardens)

Jim. I have read every article in your blog since day one. I think a good topic that many readers would appreciate you discussing one day is a comparison of which caliber bullets will penetrate the various materials of which the walls of our homes/retreats may be constructed. For instance, in Florida where I live, the walls of most new construction homes are constructed of one of two types. One is vinyl siding over plywood over wood frame. The other is cement cinder blocks. What do we need to be aware of as far as bullet penetration of the walls from the outside? Also, I assume sand bags placed along the walls would help in a survival situation. If so, which caliber bullets will penetrate sand bags? Thank you so much and God bless you for the great work you are doing. - Joe.

JWR Replies: The U.S. Army has done very extensive tests on terminal ballistics. The following is the latest update to my standard "Harder Homes and Gardens" spiel that I've included in my consulting letters and speeches for many years: Cinder blocks only provide good ballistic penetration if they are filled with concrete. For serious ballistic protection, I recommend any of the following: traditional reinforced masonry buildings, concrete filled foam blocks--also called Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs), Earthships (tire houses), "Earthbag" houses, Underground houses with masonry entrances, or monolithic dome homes. A log house with at least 12" diameter logs and concrete chinking also works well, but they are far more vulnerable to fire than masonry. Any of these techniques of course should be supplemented with the steel door and window shutter upgrades described in detail in my novel Patriots. A standard metal roof works fine if your only concern is fire. However, if a house is situated in a canyon or if it is adjacent to much taller buildings where you might be vulnerable to shooters firing downward, then you must plan on either a ballistically reinforced roof (which is heavy and expensive) or build a monolithic dome spec'ed to at least 8" thick shotcrete in the apex, tapering to at least 9" thick in the lower portions of the dome and/or the stem wall (vertical riser wall.) Here is some useful data on ballistic protection from some U.S. Military manuals:






Dear Mr. Rawles:
Thank you for providing a fine forum for those of us who value self-reliance and preparedness.
My current professional situation requires that we live in a notoriously liberal city in the northern People's Republic of Kalifornia. My wife and I laugh frequently at being the true minorities in our city - an independent Christian family with children where the father is a net provider of jobs. We are working actively on a relocation plan and hope for implementation within a few years.
Pennsylvania is a state which may not appear interesting when considered in the aggregate, as the statistics are skewed heavily by the major cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Additionally, statistical analysis might overlook some of the favorable cultural aspects of the central portions of the state. Income taxes are low, and education can be good.
Pennsylvania can be divided culturally into thirds. The Philadelphia area in the far east of the state is an urban liberal cousin of New York and Boston. In the far western portion of the state Pittsburgh is a mid-western city having more in common with Cleveland and Cincinnati than Philadelphia. The middle third of the state and the northern region might be worth examining for those with strong family ties in the northeast. It is the geography and culture of this region which makes its retreat potential interesting.
The Klintonian Democrat James Carville labeled the northern and central portions of the state 'Alabama;' it is not Bill & Hillary country. Others have referred to it as 'Pennsyltucky,' a reference to the more conservative hard-working folks who populate the farms, mountains, and small towns of the region. In the book On The Road, the beatnik poet Jack Kerouac called this area the last great eastern wilderness.
The region is comprised of low gently rolling wooded ranges of the Appalachian Mountains, somewhat similar to sections of the coast ranges of Oregon. There is plentiful surface water and springs, and dry-farming can yield quite a lot per acre in the right regions. The untilled land is rich in firewood, game, and fish in the streams. Rather than relying on the vast distances of the American west for protection from urban hordes, the region contains pockets of topography - combinations of mountains, forests, and streams - that create challenging access for non-locals and very defensible sites for the natives. Nonetheless, Pennsylvania is a large eastern state with many lightly populated rural counties well removed from major highways. Locals may rely upon game trails over the mountains rather than the small country roads around them. Bad weather, cold winters with snow are additional factors limiting access.
A large portion of the population in the central and northern portion of the state hunts and fishes. The first day of hunting season and trout season will see some schools closed and others missing quite a few children. This is a part of the world where youngsters learn early the stories of woodsman and sharpshooters who fought Hessian mercenaries and British redcoats using the advantages of marksmanship and terrain. Daniel Boone lived here and walked to Kentucky with his PENNSYLVANIA rifle, perhaps the first American sniper weapon. The folks live a self-reliant lifestyle which is steeped in outdoor survival skills. It's a land of self-help and good neighbors, not welfare handouts and intrusive government. Growing up, our farm was part of a small group of farms contained in the bend of a small river and enclosed by the mountains of state game lands and forests. Access was via one of two small roads easily monitored. The hilly nature of the country provided numerous opportunities for tactical advantage. For now, I'll omit naming specific counties and towns.
While the region is not favorably located for the ultimate nuclear TEOTWAWKI scenario, for us a chance to be close to loved ones and to have children learn from their grandparents as well as from us will likely outweigh this factor. Keep up the good work, we appreciate your efforts. - A Mountain Yankee Waiting to Go Home

JWR Adds: Boston T. Party's ranking (in Boston's Gun Bible) for Pennsylvania on firearms freedom is 61%.

Mr. Rawles,
I'll take you up on your offer to sing the praises of an eastern state as a retreat. Give me Virginia any day. We have excellent gun laws--shall issue for CCW; open carry; no restrictions on private transfers; no gun registry; and no waiting periods. H*ll, we can open or concealed carry in the state capitol building! (Except that open carry is now restricted to CCW permit holders.) Last year we got rid of local pre-emption, which drove the commies in Fairfax and Arlington counties nuts.

We are a bit close to DC, so the a**hole population is the suburbs is pretty high. The Potomac River keeps the worst ones on the DC-Maryland side. Once you get beyond the burbs, it's great.

The weather is mild both summer and winter. Lots of rivers and streams, and plenty of game. If we really get desperate there's always West Virginia. Regards, - J.G.


Shalom Jim!
I escaped South Florida (Palm Beach County) to north-central Florida (Gainesville), then escaped further where I am now living in my most probable TEOTWAWKI “BIL" (Bug In Location),” just east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, right outside Charlottesville, VIRGINIA. I have been here since December 2004. Here are my thoughts on Charlottesville, VA (Albemarle County) and the surrounding area as a place to ride out the coming chaos…

Some quick stats: The CITY of Charlottesville is about 11 square miles with 40,000 residents, and it resides in the COUNTY of Albemarle, which is 110 miles from Washington, DC, 70 miles from Richmond and claims about 89,000 residents. The average ANNUAL temperature is 57 degrees with the summer averaging in the low 80’s and the winter dipping to 37 degrees with usually mild snow falls. Charlottesville was named by Frommers (I think) as the BEST PLACE TO LIVE a few years back and has been listed in the Top 100 by Money Magazine 4 years in a row.

Charlottesville, the home of Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia, is a college town, which means it tilts to the LEFT politically, unlike the country-oriented Conservative RIGHT farmers and residents that surround the city, so it has many tree huggers and peace activists, but this also brings in some very good “survivalist” benefits, that being ORGANIC farming, non-Hybrid farming, Homesteading, homeopathic sciences and many avenues to good, wholesome FOODS. Albemarle county also has a large BEEF CATTLE industry, as well as FARMING. Excellent Vineyards, Apple & Peach Orchards and Berry Farms are scattered all over the county as the soil is well suited for GROWING. This is probably why men like Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, as well as James Madison a county over, call this area of Virginia HOME.

There is ONE major highway through Charlottesville running east/west which is I-64. I-29 going north/south is not as major but it leads to Washington, DC, which would be an exodus route if TSHTF. Most refugees would probably hole up in the NORTH SIDE of Charlottesville, where most of the businesses and residents are, rather than the SOUTH SIDE where I live, a much more rural area. Route 20 is a twisting 2-lane north/south highway that would also be used by refugees, but could be contained or diverted with use of a good backhoe or tractor. Fortunately, the massively used I-81 north/south highway runs on the WEST side of the Blue Ridge Mountains through the Shenandoah Valley, so the massive exodus on that highway will have minimal effect here as the herd will not want to head east over the mountains, but rather further south.

SURVIVAL QUOTENT / NUCLEAR: Charlottesville is tucked in valleys and hills that stretch out from the Blue Ridge to the west and gradually decline as you move east towards Richmond, most of them SOLID GRANITE. These mountains and hills offer excellent protection from any NUCLEAR BLAST effects that may hit Washington, DC, Richmond, Norfolk and a few possible target locations in West Virginia. Fallout would still be a concern but the effects of the blasts would be SURVIVABLE without too much effort. There are also many CAVERNS in this area that could be utilized if one does not have sufficient protection to ride out FALLOUT at their home or retreat. This area has little TERRORIST or Nation State target potential, although its close proximity to Washington, DC could pose some problems and concerns, but not excessively so if one is wise and prepared.

SURVIVAL QUOTENT / FOOD: Charlottesville and the surrounding counties are well suited for SURVIVAL if something ever sent our country into a tailspin. There is a STRONG unity among local farmers and Co-Ops are strong. There are also many organic/non-hybrid farmers as well. Fruits and vegetables are plentiful in their seasons. There are BEEF CATTLE ranches all over this area, as well as other livestock. WATER is PLENTIFUL with good quality streams and rivers all over this area. Well water quality, although slightly high in Iron, is excellent, especially compared to the swamp water of South Florida. The water table level at my home is 34 feet and my pump goes down 120 feet, and I use a pH Neutralizer and Green Sand filter to further refine it, to give as an example.

Wildlife is also abundant, especially where I live, only 8 miles outside of Charlottesville. Turkeys and deer abound! Small critters are also plentiful.

SURVIVAL QUOTENT / PEOPLE: As stated earlier, Charlottesville has a lot of LEFTIES but the surrounding counties are good, RIGHT-minded country folk, many running farms, vineyards and orchards that have been in the family for hundreds of years. A CAN-DO, GET BY attitude is strong and everyone I have met outside the city are good people that one would love to have as neighbors. There is a VERY LOW RIOT/LOOTING potential once you get outside the city, but there are only SMALL pockets of problem areas with the city itself that could be contained with some determination by Law Enforcement. GANG problems are minimal, mainly wanna-be "gangstas".

I think that gives you a fair idea of what this area of Virginia has to offer the survivalist minded. One day I may get to Idaho, but till then, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia is where I will try to survive…

You may also enjoy my web site, What Would Yahshua Do? It is at www.wwyd.org It is about discovering the HEBRAIC aspects of our Messiah Yahshua, often called Jesus, as well as discovering the IMPORTANCE of KNOWING and USING the FATHER’s NAME, Yahweh. Scripture speaks of a GREATER EXODUS coming, the SECOND EXODUS, where Believer’s in the Messiah will be led out of the coming judgment into safety (not a rapture.) Check it out!
Baruch HaShem Yahweh, - Robert

JWR Adds: Boston T. Party's ranking (in Boston's Gun Bible) for Virginia on firearms freedom is 61%.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Thank you for this website—it’s more concise and relevant than most of the survival web sites I’ve come across. As far as your call for Eastern US survival information, something one should bear in mind is that the pro/cons here are almost completely different than in the west. High Sheeple and business numbers mean more assets to scavenge—not smash and grab looting, per se, but ten years into a TEOTWAWKI scenario, machine equipment & warehoused goods will be sitting idle with dead & gone owners. More doctors and engineers and technically qualified people are likely to be around urban areas based on probability alone, in all but the worst nuclear/bio warfare annihilation scenarios. The criminals associated with the larger cities are by and large less intelligent members of society and likely will not survive cold winters, disease and starvation.
With a city lot and good gardening skills, it is more than possible to feed a family.(ask the Russian families who survived the end of the cold war on garden plots of about 1000 square feet.) Planting potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, lambsquarters, and any other inconspicuous plants can keep random stragglers from stealing your food. And Mother Earth News style organic gardening can boost yields well beyond row cropping methods.
In urban/suburban areas, bugout is much less of an option, but is unnecessary if you can prepare a safe/panic room, or 1950’s style fallout shelter, or even a strong hole that you can shoot from. Be neighborly, so that when times are tough, you and those around you can look out for each other. Unfortunately in today's cities, that trait isn’t the most common. Cultivate it. Get a good map of your neighborhood, and just as suggested for rural areas, know who owns what.
Also consider instead of stockpiling bullets, booze, and bandaids: building a distillation setup and knowing how to use it, making sterile dressings from pressure cooked rags, reloading used brass…and perhaps even learning the necessary casting/moldmaking of brass ammunition and the chemical preparation of primers… Ever wonder what will happen to our grandchildren once all ten thousand rounds we have stored has been fired and reloaded half a dozen times?
If you absolutely must leave the confines of the ‘burbs, there are wilderness areas throughout the east coast. Within 100 miles of the dreaded New York would be either the Catskill Mountains, or the NJ Pine Barrens, home of Tom Brown’s Tracker School,(www.trackerschool.com) reputed to be one of the finest primitive skills survival courses around. But even directly on the outskirts of NYC there are thousands of acres of marshlands that are wade-able and extremely wildlife rich, e.g. Jamaica Bay and the NJ Meadowlands. At least for those intrepid enough to hop the concrete divider and leave the asphalt behind. And there’s plentiful freshwater, leaving NYC a lot better off than LA or other crowded western cities, IMHO. With a sea kayak and bugout bag the whole east coast is wide open.
The Carolinas and Virginia have what I believe the most wonderful gardening/farming climate on our planet, along with nearby wilderness and mountain areas, nearby military bases(a plus in certain scenarios) and a large Christian conservative population. But the old saying “Location, Location, Location” is not as important as the survival attitude, anywhere.
For those out there who are trying to survive in the suburbs on a limited budget--I’ve intuitively agreed with the survivalist mindset since I read my first copy of American Survival Guide at eleven, but at 28 I’ve grown out of a doom-and-gloom mindset into a more optimistic view that any coming SHTF may be a golden opportunity for all those who are careful and smart enough to make it through. I cannot reiterate enough how very wealthy you will be when SHTF and all the SUV driving McMansion dwellers run out of food. Have faith that ten dollars a week extra in canned goods and that garden of root crops is worth far more than big screen TVs and other consumer cr*p that the large corporations want you to buy. Sincerely, - Al in Durham, NC

JWR Replies: The statistical chances of surviving are slim when hunkering down in a full scale TEOTWAWKI long enough to ride out a major die-off on the east coast. Under those circumstances you will need a VERY secure retreat, at least a two year food and fuel supply, and either spring water or a shallow well. From an actuarial standpoint, it is far better to avoid high risk areas. (Areas with high population density/hig systems dependency, or anywhere that is within 250 miles--one tank of gas--of such an area.) That doesn't leave much that is anywhere east of the Mississippi River!) I've said it several times but it bears repeating: I strongly recommend that if they have the means to do so, that folks move to a lightly agricultural populated region in the west, such as the ones that I have been profiling in recent weeks. But for those of you that plan to "stick it out" in the east, may God Bless You! Stock up in ample supply (the "deep larder" concept) and pray hard.

"Nine requisites for contented living: Health enough to make work a pleasure. Wealth enough to support your needs. Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them. Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them. Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished. Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor. Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others. Faith enough to make real the things of God. Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future."
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

Saturday, October 8, 2005

I will be a featured guest today (Saturday) in a round table discussion on Dr. Geri Guidetti's web radio/shortwave radio show. The show airs at 1 p.m. Central Time (11 a.m. Pacific Time.) This two hour show will also be available via podcast. The Topic: Pandemics--Potential Impacts on Society. For details on how to hear the webcast live or on how to download it post facto, visit the Republic Radio web site: http://www.rbnlive.com.

Today, I continue my detailed potential retreat locales analysis series with another region in Montana. Do you have any suggested regions where you have first hand experience that you'd like to add to the list? If so, please send them to me via e-mail in the same format and I will gladly post them.

The Bitterroot Valley region of western Montana, (south of Missoula) is worth considering. It still has some affordable land, but the out-of-state millionaires who all seem to want to build 4,000+ square foot log "cabins" are gradually creeping in and pushing up prices. Concentrate on small towns along the Bitterroot River, such as Florence, Stevensville, Victor, Corvalis, Pinesdale, Woodside, Hamilton, Grantsdale, and Darby.

Advantages: Away from the I-90 corridor. Plentiful water and firewood. Great hunting.

Disadvantages: Even though it is west of the Great Divide and they call this "Montana's Banana Belt", this region still has a relatively cold climate and short growing season. But at least it is not as severe as the adjoining high country or locales east of the Great Divide. (Can be compensated by building a large greenhouse.) Both the agriculture and economy are not as diverse as the Kalispell/Flathead Lake Region.

Grid Up Retreat Potential: 5 (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)

Many thanks to Roy, over at The Claire Files for passing along the URL for this site with some downloadable texts on do it yourself blacksmithing. See: http://www.lametalsmiths.org/news/downloadable_blacksmithing_books.htm

Several time in recent days I've read references to the Asian Avian Influenza ("A.A. Flu") having a "less than 50% mortality rate." Clinically, perhaps, but not in a real world pandemic! Why? The 50% figure is based on advanced medical treatment. Because A.A. flu is a respiratory disease, therapies that are currently being used to combat the small outbreaks in Asia this will not be available at home. (This includes inhalation therapy, anti-bacterial drugs like Ciprofloxacin ("Cipro")--already in short supply--and ventilators.) Here is a data point for you: There 105,000 ventilators installed at U.S. hospitals, of which at least 70,000 are in use on any given day. In the event of a pandemic, the hospitals will be jammed. Now who, of the 20 million to 200 million patients, is going to get the use of those 35,000 ventilators? And who is going to get any of the few available doses of Cipro?

Think this through folks, and PREPARE! Since most flus are spread by person-to-person contact, be prepared to live in isolation for an extended period of time, preferably in a rural, agricultural, lightly populated region. That means a six month supply of storage food and all of the other requisite logistics. You need to also lay in a supply of antibiotics. Yes, I know that they are useless against the flu itself (which is viral), but they can be used to fight co-infections. Try to get some antibiotics like Cipro for your family, ASAP! (Ask your friendly local doctor.) Again, they are just for co-infections. (Pneumonia often accompanies influenza, and lung congestion can be a killer.)

In closing, if you doubt the seriousness of this emerging threat, then read the World Health Organization's document that describes the propensity of influenza viruses toward antigenic shift: http://www.who.int/csr/don/2004_01_15/en/ You might also fined the following letters informative...

A reader asked about Avian Influenza (H5N1.) Do public health professionals take it seriously? The answer is very much Yes. Of course we can't predict the future with certainty, and there *is* a certain amount of hype right now -- but, yes, the situation *could* eventually rival the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. At the same time, I must emphasize there is no guarantee that will happen: and we are not there, yet, not by a long shot.
The bottom line is yes, it is *possible* the H5N1 virus could mutate so as to efficiently jump between humans (person-to-person transmission) and cause a Very Bad Situation indeed. Fortunately, although a few instances of person-to-person transmission have already occurred in northern Vietnam, it was not very "efficient" from the viral perspective and has not been sustained.
Still, the just-starting annual influenza season in the Northern Hemisphere will be a time for continued vigilance on H5N1, focused on Asia. Your readers should recognize that there's a lot of attention -- public health surveillance -- directed to this issue right now. I really expect any new sinister abilities by the H5N1 virus will become apparent in SE Asia first. Indonesia in particular is quite worrisome at this moment. (I am quite mindful of the Chinese government's very poor initial reaction to SARS in 2003, but frankly it's at the point where no government could hide serious new developments re: human H5N1 even if they wanted to.) My point is, don't over-react to winter respiratory illness in the rest of the world. We call it "cold and flu season" for a reason!
(In this regard, I must say the current hysteria in some quarters over the Toronto nursing home deaths seems misplaced. I am prepared to be wrong, but having investigated nursing home outbreaks for more than a decade, I know that in respiratory outbreaks in nursing homes People Do Die and sometimes it's not instantly apparent why. I have no inside information -- but so far, from the press reports, the situation really doesn't strike me as all that exceptional. Is it a bad outbreak? Obviously. But nasty nursing home outbreaks happen somewhere every year. Labeling it "mysterious" is true as far as it goes, but not meaningful. The public health folks in Toronto, some of whom I know personally, have reported it's not the most obvious nor most worrisome bugs -- not influenza A of any type, nor Legionella, nor SARS, etc etc -- so my predictions: it's RSV, or parainfluenza, or adenovirus. Sometimes theses things just aren't as easy to diagnose as we'd like.)
Anyhow, back to H5N1: a good technical review article was just published in the New England Journal of Medicine and is currently free on their website: "Current Concepts: Avian Influenza A(H5N1) Infection in Humans," September 29, 2005, http://content.nejm.org/cgi/reprint/353/13/1374.pdf.

Also, for a doomerish perspective from a professional who has been beating the drum loudly on this topic, read any of the editorials by or news stories on Michael Osterholm, a much-respected former State Epidemiologist from Minnesota. Just "Google" his name. I am not offering any detailed pandemic 'flu advice as requested by the other reader because I don't have anything new or brilliant to offer. In the very worst imaginable situation -- not likely but also not completely impossible IMHO -- your readers *already* should be aware that deep preparations, a chain saw for dropping trees, and a remote location ought to be part of their extended personal options. They are certainly part of mine. If they don't know this already, then they should reconsider why they are bothering to read your blog at all. - "A. Physician"

A. Physician's Letter Update(8 October): As a follow up to my comments: The much-watched Toronto nursing home outbreak turned out to be due to Legionella after all (according to news reports made after I wrote my initial note to you.) Nasty but far from unprecedented. The diagnosis was eventually made from autopsy specimens. I'm guessing that earlier "urine antigen" tests were negative, but those can only diagnose one type of Legionella that accounts for 80-90% of Legionella outbreaks; and Legionella bacteria are difficult to grow via sputum cultures from living patients.

Aloha Jim--
Your Thursday, October 6th reference about the [potential] Avian Flu Pandemic article is a "must read" from page 18 to the end. Included is a specific list of OTC supplies and prescription medications, plus how to care for the ill in your family. These very informative details are predicated on the likelihood that a pandemic would overwhelm professional help/facilities, requiring family members to care for each other. It's a chilling, but should be a required read - B.B. in Hawaii

"Its better to have one and not need it, then to need one and not have it."
- Author Larry McMurtry explains the logic of having a gun, in Lonesome Dove

Friday, October 7, 2005

I get more than 40 e-mails a day, more than half of which include specific questions. My humble apologies for not being able to respond to every e-mail. For those of you that do get replies, my further apologies for being so terse. You might feel cheated when you get just a two or three line reply to a 20 or 30 line e-mail. But if I were verbose as I'd like to be in my responses, I would only be able to respond to a small fraction of the e-mails instead of half of them. Since I have a full time job as a technical writer I only have about three hours a day (evenings and early mornings) to respond to e-mails and to put together the blog. Many thanks for your understanding of my situation!

The Clark Fork Valley Region, (Sanders County, Northwest Montana, near the Idaho State Line.)
This isolated valley sits between the Bitterroot and Cabinet Mountain Ranges. Concentrate on small towns along the Clark Fork such as Plains, Thompson Falls, Belknap, Trout Creek, Noxon, and Heron. Avoid the upper elevations. (In this region, an additional 1,000 feet of elevation puts you in a much different climate!)
Advantages: Away from the I-90 corridor.
Disadvantages: Cold climate and short growing season. (Can be compensated by building a large greenhouse.) Economy is not as diverse as the Kalispell/Flathead Lake Region. Insufficient agriculture in the region necessitates very extensive food storage to make a viable retreat.

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

Mr. Rawles:
I am finding your SurvivalBlog to be of interest. Here's some info for those wishing to convert their Inch rifles to have a true BHO after the last round is fired with a magazine in place. For several years I've used an 1/8 inch roll pin to replace the ground pin. This seems to work out better than a piece of drill rod because the roll pins are already hard, and of course by design are compressed slightly when inserted, so they tend to hold in place better than just a press fit rod. The pin hole will normally measure about 110-115", so all one needs do is turn the roll pin to about 115 thousandths and drive it into place. A drill press and file will do this job, or a hand drill placed gently in a vise and a file if you lack the drill press. I typically use a one inch pin [and trim it to length] simply because the local hardware store stocks 1/2 inch ( a bit short) then 1 inch (a bit long.) If one has an un-drilled BHO, the correct location mikes out to about .435" from the top of the BHO to the center of the hole. The lever one presses will be on the opposite plane from the hole, don't drill it on the same plane or it will be pointing in the wrong direction! I hope this helps those with an SLR that want the use of a bolt hold open. - R.J. (known to friends as "Doubletap")


Another Letter from John in Iraq Re: IEDs and "The Tactical Decision Game" (SAs: Supporting Our Troops, IEDs, Tactics, Survival Mindset)

Hello Again Sir,
I was delighted to see that you'd not only printed a letter from myself, but also from a good friend of mine, Grampa R. He's the one who first lent me a copy of Patriots and Unintended Consequences and got me started on the survival mindset.

Well, Ramadan's started but things haven't been too busy yet. A friend of mine was killed by an IED that also took the leg from a corpsman. Went on a patrol today that took IDF close by, and had an RPG impact one of the trucks. Thankfully it was a glancing shot and it didn't detonate. If the SHTF to the extent you're worried about RPG's or similar being shot at your house, setting up angled barricades might be more effective than trying to make something thick enough to stop it outright. Have to think about it.

We had some problems with a mosque a couple days ago; every Military Age Male (MAM in our jargon) in the area was running into it and staging prior to attacking us. Wanted to go in badly, but the CO of another company was on the hook to battalion and he wasn't pressing for it as much as he could've been. Or maybe he's just not very articulate; either way higher didn't give us the go-ahead to raid the place. We got a few small caches and detained a few hajjis, but compared to my friends life and that squids leg it seems insignificant. Sure wish we could've raided that mosque. Might've actually done some good.

One part of training I think is often overlooked is playing "what if" games. The officer types call it the "Tactical Decision Game." I'm an 0351, the infantry MOS that does demolitions. The gunner in my truck is as well, so on patrols we ask each other a lot of what if questions about demo. "If you needed to breach a wall of X material, that is Y thick... what charge would you use?" Lots of fun, keeps us awake, and is actually a big help when it comes to making decisions in the field.

Before I deployed I did the same type of thing with my wife. "If riots break out when you're at work... how will you get home, what will you take, who will you call, where will you go. etc" Seemed to really help her have a solid game plan. Might help those looking for a way to draw a disinterested spouse into the spirit of surviving as well. Or it might just annoy them that you're bothering them with "your stupid hobby." Times up again. God bless, and keep up the good work. - John

You mentioned that you don't feel qualified to comment on much less to rank the eastern states. I can start the ball rolling, re: the Urban Northeast (the UNE). The disadvantages of the UNE are: cold winters, overpopulation, generally bad gun laws, socialistic politicians, and high Sheeple Ratio (SR). However, tens of millions of people live there, so:
1. I live in Philadelphia, for which the natural bugout area is the Catskills, Lehigh Valley, etc.
PA gun laws are surprisingly good; an oasis of sanity in the UNE: Shall Issue CCW (and you can carry virtually anywhere -- no annoying patchwork of carry-proscribed areas); no AW laws; no waiting periods. Long guns can be sold privately without a paper trail, but sadly all handguns must go through FFL. This latter is disconcerting because, in open defiance of state law, the PA State Police are keeping a firearm registry. That's why creating a cache of off-paper rifles is all-important.
PA taxes vary: state income taxes are mild but City of Philadelphia taxes are savagely draconian.
2. New York City: you're screwed. Politics; gun laws; taxes; population; SR are all hopeless for the foreseeable future. There is no sane bugout area around. New York state gun laws are only marginally better than NYC. NJ is hopeless too. Your best bet might be CT.
3. Boston area. Look north. I can't comment on Maine, but both NH and VT are excellent choices, especially with regard to gun laws. I'll try to have my NH friend contribute more info.

JWR Replies: Okay, you other easterners, chime in! Here is you chance to jump up on the virtual soap box and extol the virtues (or non-virtues) of the eastern states and particular counties within them!

Two different readers e-mailed to remind me that there is a maximum security Washington state prison near Walla Walla. It currently houses 16% of the state's worst criminals, including approximately 116 sex offenders. The current inmate population is 2,277. Because of this I have revised the "grid down" potential for the region down from a 5 to a 7. (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best.) For the sake of all of our readers living near any jail or prison, let us pray that their electric cell door control systems default to "locked" rather than "open" when the backup generators run out of fuel.

In a recent post, you said: "...we will be discussing how to collect ("save") and store seed stock in detail in some upcoming blog posts. - The Memsahib"
When it comes to storing seeds long term, I think you will find this article of interest. See: http://www.echotech.org/network/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=84
This describes a safe and easy-to-create liquid that greatly increases the long-term viability of seeds. I bought both chemicals from http://www.chemicalstore.com/ , but after checking this morning, they apparently no longer sell glycerol. It is a safe and widely-used chemical, so it should still be easy to obtain after doing a bit of web searching. Thank you for all you do! Take care and God Bless. - SMG

Just a caveat when using open-pollenated seeds: Be sure the varieties you grow won't pollinate each other, or you will have: a hybrid. It won't grow true from seed. The best way to combat this is to grow only one variety, and lots of it. This way, if there are no other varieties of the same crop in the near vicinity, the seed will be true to the original ones planted. Semper Fi, - Sarge

Mr. Rawles,
Congratulations on the success of your website. I follow it everyday and have gleaned much info from it. My wife and I have been working at getting our "beans, bullets and band-aids" together and have made what we believe is good progress. With the state the economy is in and considering your advice about investing, I have a question that I hope you can/will help me with. I am thinking about taking out a loan against my 401K to: 1) Pay off our home @ approximately $18,000; 2) Round out our "beans, bullets and band-aids" and 3) Invest in 2-3 bags of pre-1965 silver coins. To my way of thinking (which may be skewed) this would be a way of re-investing a portion of my 401K in tangibles instead of paper. I would appreciate any advice that you would be willing to give. Thank you for your hard work and for sharing your knowledge and insight. - Steve

JWR Replies: I'd recommend that you keep your investments diverse. Diversifying some of your retirement money into precious metals is wise. Paying off your home early only makes sense if the interest rate that you are paying on your mortgage is higher than the rate of return you are earning on your 401(k).

If like me you have no faith in the long term prospects or the value of the dollar, American Church Trust offers gold coin deposit self-directed IRA accounts. (The folks at Swiss America can help you set one up.) Under some circumstances a 401(k) can be rolled over into an IRA. Parenthetically, when I was with Oracle Corporation back in 1999, my co-workers thought that I was crazy putting money in a gold IRA rather than Oracle stock. ("Jim, you are missing out. Oracle shares are going to the moon!", they said.) That was when gold was under $325 per ounce. And where are gold and Oracle shares now, respectively?

Thoroughly enjoyed your book "Patriots". Are there any recommended sources for designing a retreat on the Web that you recommend? You have provided a ton of info on the locating a retreat, but I have not been able to find anything on how to design a retreat or a comprehensive list of recommended features. Thank you for your Website, I read it daily. - J.M.

JWR Replies: Glad that you like the site. I'll be talking about retreat design in detail in blog posts in coming weeks. In the meantime, read Joel Skousen's book "The Secure Home." (The book is pricey, but worth the price!)

Thoroughly enjoyed your book "Patriots". Are there any recommended sources for designing a retreat on the Web that you recommend? You have provided a ton of info on the locating a retreat, but I have not been able to find anything on how to design a retreat or a comprehensive list of recommended features. Thank you for your Website, I read it daily. - J.M.

JWR Replies: Glad that you like the site. I'll be talking about retreat design in detail in blog posts in coming weeks. In the meantime, read Joel Skousen's book "The Secure Home." (The book is pricey, but worth the price!)

I subscribe to the [name deleted] investment e-mail newsletter. If you go to the web page listed below, he has an article where he gives his opinion of the "doom-and-gloom" naysayers. I don't think he was speaking about you specifically, but I thought you might be interested in reading what he has to say and maybe responding to him with a rebuttal. I also wonder how you feel about someone like [name deleted], who claims he runs a survival, not a survivalist web site. I had never considered that there was a difference until he pointed it out. Thanks again for taking the time to read this and please let me know what you think. - P.S.

JWR Replies: Even though I have been offered some complimentary subscriptions, I intentionally avoid reading economic or preparedness blogs and newsletters on a regular basis, for fear that I might consciously or subconsciously mirror what they say. I don't want to sound divisive or critical of the other writer's views, but trying to distinguish between a "survivor" and a "survivalist" is splitting haIrs, IMO.

Yes, I'm firmly in the gloom and doom camp, or perhaps call it the "guns and groceries" camp. I'm definitely not in the "Buy a chateau in the Swiss Alps and Krugerrands for barter" camp.

My years in Army intelligence really opened my eyes to a number of factors, most significantly just how incredibly cheap human life is regarded in most developing countries, and how very thin the veneer of civilization is in all countries. In the event of a major war, and major pandemic, or even just major economic troubles both individuals and governments will show their true colors very quickly. It may sound pessimistic, but the only hope that I have is in God's providence to put me in the right place with good Christian friends that I can count on.

Trying a little "out of the box" perambulation. I disremember but seem to recall that this was your bailiwick back when. I noticed the President is publicly talking about getting congress to authorize the use of military troops should bird flu, et al occur. It seems to me that particular authority already exists. So I ponder. If he already has the authority, why ask for it again? Is it to make a public statement that he asked, as part of good planning, before it happened and we should be grateful and pleased? Does he know that "massive plague (or a simulation) is going to occur and it's natural (or artificial or simulated) or intentionally created/simulated and want's it to look like he did everything he could? Something just niggles me about his publicly asking for permission. Mayhap I didn't state this clearly but I think you'll get the idea. So..... what's your take and the Memsahib's take (she has a unique perception). - The Army Aviator

JWR Replies: The A.A. Flu "flag" seems to have been run up the pole to test the winds for the prospect of removing the Posse Comitatus statutes. (They had to cite something more far-reaching than just a series of hurricanes.) This prospect is very bad news. If people don't make a major stink about this, then Posse Comitatus may go away with just a whimper. I really doubt that the A.A. Flu is anything but naturally occurring. This bug has been cited in the medical journals as 58% lethal with advanced medical care. Should the worst happen, it is best, methinks, to have some rural isolation, independent water and power, and at least a six month food supply to give this thing time to burn itself out. The full implications of a potential 50% global die-off are staggering.

"No matter where you go... ...There you are!" - Dr. Buckaroo Banzai

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Yesterday, we celebrated the two month anniversary of SurvivalBlog. I have been overwhelmed at the blog's rapid success. (61,000+ unique views and 1.5 million page hits!) I owe most of the credit to you, the loyal SurvivalBlog readers. Your letters and contributed articles are the best part of the blog!

I'm still looking for entries for the SurvivalBlog writing contest. The prize is a transferable four day course certificate, good for any course at Front Sight!

The Olympic Peninsula is a very rainy but quasi-remote region in western Washington. Albeit with strong reservations, it is one of the few retreat regions that I recommend in the western half of the state.

Statistics (for Forks):
Average high temperature in August: 71.8.
Average low temperature in January: 33.7.
Growing season: (Clallam Bay): 182 days.
Growing season: (Forks): 175 days.
Average snowfall in January: 4.8”.
Clallam County Median residential home price: $140,000.
Advantages: Mild climate with the moderating influence of the Pacific Ocean, Clallam County crops include hay oats, corn, apples, cherries, pears, plums, carrots, peas, and berries. Upwind from the Cascade Mountains (which are prone to rare but very violent volcanic eruptions/ash falls). Upwind from all of Washington’s anticipated nuclear targets.

Disadvantages: Extremely heavy rainfall except in some "rain shadow" towns like Sequim (spoken: “SKWIM”.) Proximity to the Seattle/Tacoma metropolitan region. One important proviso: Lots of folks in western Washington go fishing and hiking in the summer on the Olympic Peninsula, so they may immediately think of it as a place to bug out WTSHTF. So be prepared for a substantial influx of refugees in the event of any sort of rapid-onset TEOTWAWKI.

Modern agricultural science is a two-edged sword. Hybrid vegetable and row crop varieties have tremendously increased crop yields in the past 50 years. Along with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, this has allowed the Earth's population to double in the past 45 years without mass starvation. Unfortunately because the seeds from hybrid plants do not breed true, it makes farmers captive to the seed companies an dependent on modern chains of supply for seed distribution. Any seed that is saved from crops typically produces less yield than traditional non-hybrid progenitors. In the event of a global TEOTWAWKI, I anticipate that catastrophic starvation would occur. This would of course be caused by disruption of hybrid seed production and/or disruption of supply chains. The lure of high yields has forced the vast majority of the worlds farmers into the ongoing use of hybrid seed. It is like an enormous, inviting, invisible trap that has taken in nearly all of the farmers on the planet-JWR

An additional hazard of hybrids or genetically modified seeds is that the exact same seed type is planted on a mass scale. A disease that could wipe out one plant would kill ALL the plants. All are identical, and all would have the same lack of resistance. You can think of hybrid seeds as identical twins.The beauty of non hybrid seeds is that they offer genetic variety. Non-hybrid seeds can be thought of as cousins. They will be from the same family but each have unique attributes. Among a field of non hybrid plants would be some with resistance to the disease. You would only lose part of your crop. And if you saved the seeds from the plants that had the most resistance, you would have disease resistant plants the next year.

OBTW, we will be discussing how to collect ("save") and store seed stock in detail in some upcoming blog posts. - The Memsahib

The best alternative to the hybrid seed trap is to stock up on traditional open pollinated (non-hybrid) seed varieties, also called "heirloom" variety seeds. Our favorite source is The Ark Institute. They sell very high quality, open-pollinated seeds. They even offer the service of assembling a seed kit specially tailored to your climate zone. Here is how to contact them: The Ark Institute P.O. Box 1721, Gold Beach, Oregon 97444. Phone: 1-800-255-1912, e-mail: arkinst@concentric.net Web site: http://www.arkinstitute.com/. OBTW, Dr. Geri Guidetti of The Ark Institute kindly provided this article on Asian Avian Flu on her web site.

Other sources of information and open-pollinated seed:
Seed Savers Exchange, R.R. 3, Box 239 Decorah, Iowa 52101.

Seeds of Change, P.O. Box 15700 Santa Fe, New Mex. 87506.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, P.O. Box 158 North Garden Virginia 22959.

Territorial Seed Co., P.O. Box 157 Cottage Grove, Ore. 97424.
(Carries seeds primarily for the Pacific Northwest and similar climates.)

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I am a recent reader of the blog (nice job by the way). However I have read “Patriots” and I frequent several boards that you frequent. One issue I have, and a lot of survival minded people need to make sure is covered is medical requirements for chronic illnesses. The human body being fragile can develop an illness that must be treated on an ongoing basis. Anyone who is preparing for any disaster must take into account a supply of medications/supplies. I am not talking about the typical Tylenol and bandages, but prescriptions. Some prescriptions will be difficult to stock up on because of federal laws, or the medication is not in pill form and must be injected. And getting a ‘script’ filled just prior to a sudden catastrophic event may be impractical. A catastrophic event where you have time to make some preparations, such as a hurricane, is a bit easier to address. However keep in mind that insurance companies have time limits on filling medications. If you are near a refill date you will be okay. But if you have only used a small amount of a recent prescription, and want to have an additional supply for 30 or 60 days your insurance will not necessarily pay for it, so all of that will be out of pocket. A chronically ill person may find themselves laying out a lot of money on that supply; money that could be used for other supplies. Some medications used for an acute illness can be saved for later use. One medication I have done this with was a pain medication that I had when I had an unpleasant encounter with kidney stones. My doc told me that if I didn’t use all the pain medication to retain any unused portion. The doc said that the only thing that will happen over time is a diminished effect of the medication and I may have to take one and one half or two to gain the same pain relieving level. So, when I travel, always take it with me just in case I had another attack, because getting to a hospital to get treatment may would take a longer time than I would like to experience pain. So one needs to plan accordingly. If a person can take the time and try a week or longer taking say half of their medications (without placing your life or general health in undue danger) you will get a good idea of how to ration your medication to maintain a reasonable level of health and functionality over any given period of time. But one must know their medications. Some medications you can’t just stop taking, but must be diminished gradually over time. So be careful with what you do when testing. At this moment I am undergoing such a test. I am not doing this of choice, but because of economic reasons. I have found that I can remain fairly functional with my more expensive medications cut in half. And so far this ‘time of test’ has been a bit over two weeks. I hope to return to my normal dosage level soon. But if I watch what I do and pace myself I can manage pain levels and still get some of my basic work accomplished. Anyone who has a chronic condition can be a contributor any survival group, but one must know one’s limitations as well as capabilities. It would be foolish for me to try plowing a field with a mule, but I can do ‘lighter’ work. And if push comes to shove, I can lay down a lot of covering fire for a tactical retreat. Every survivalist needs to take into account the fragility of their own health, and make adjustments according to health, age, and physical abilities. And for you young survival minded people, you will get older so don’t overlook your own fragility and mortality; its an inevitability of life. Just a penny for a thought, -The Rabid One

Hello Jim,
Your readers and contributors include a fair number of medical professionals. With all the hype in the news regarding "the coming pandemic" of Avian Flu, I'd be curious to get their professional take on it. Specifically, do they see it as a real threat and if so, what advice they would have for laymen. Thanks, - Dutch in Wyoming

JWR Replies: I 'm hoping that some of our readers who are medical professionals chime in on this subject. In the interim, Dr. Geri Guidetti of The Ark Institute kindly provided this article on Asian Avian Flu on her web site. In essence, the great unanswered question is: What are the statistical chances of the Asian Avian Flu mutating to a different strain that could jump to humans? If that percentage chance is 5% or more within the span of a year, then I wouldn't want to be in the life insurance business. If that chance is 10% or more, then it might be wise to accelerate your plans to move to a farm or ranch in a lightly populated region where there is the opportunity to live in self-sufficient isolation. (Assuming of course that this bug will be spread by person to person contact rather than on the winds.)

Mr. Rawles--many thanks for the response! We live in Henderson county and before that my family lived up in Buncombe county, so I laughed when I read the letter from your other reader. Henderson county has an extremely high per capita savings and a LOT of poor people, so somebody is skewing the results somehow. Lots of rich transplants from up North. Jurassic Park. Buncombe county is on a lot of "best places to live" lists...and real estate and cost of living increases reflect that. Rolling Stone magazine called it the "freak capital of the south"...and it is. Kind of the "San Francisco of the east coast". Henderson County is where the Mother Earth News was started and produced for many of the early years, Back Home magazine [published by the original editors of the pre-yuppie era Mother Earth News] is still produced down the road from us...so there is a history of "back to the landers" around here...but the days of cheap farm land is long past. The minute a place hits the "best place to live list" seems to be kind of a kiss of death....both Hendersonville and Asheville are on all the lists.[JWR Comments: The same thing happened to Sandpoint, Idaho and Missoula Montana.]
On another note, my father grew up near St. Maries, Idaho. from what I remember...still owns 40 acres up there so hopefully we'll get a chance to relocate at some point. I agree that Idaho is pretty great...not as trendy as Colorado or some of the other western states. Hopefully it will stay that way for a while. Good fortune getting some of the other readers to ante up...a buck per 50,000 readers would keep you up and running for a while, I suppose. Looking forward to reading the blog. - P.R.

JWR Adds: Boston T. Party's rankings (in Boston's Gun Bible) on firearms freedom are North Carolina: 66%, and South Carolina: 64%

"...whatsoever the anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it."
- Patrick Henry

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Many thanks to those of you that recently sent web hosting/bandwidth contributions! In the past 24 hours we've received enough contributions to pay for almost an entire year of web hosting. Once again, many thanks, folks!

A number of easterners have written in the past few days, asking me to rank the eastern states by their survival retreat potential. As a fourth generation westerner, I don't feel qualified to make a well-informed analysis of the eastern states, much less rank them. I would greatly appreciate comments from our readers in eastern states that have recommendations on retreat locales. I will be happy to post them so that some sort of informal consensus on the best retreat locales in the east can be reached.

Today, I'm covering a region in Washington in my detailed retreat locale analysis series.

This is one of the best dry land farming regions in eastern Washington. The drive east of Walla Walla is like a trip back in time to typical 1950s American farming country. Aside from the satellite dishes and the now ubiquitous crop sprayer tank trailers, not much has changed since then! When searching for a potential retreat, concentrate on the small towns east of Walla Walla proper--like Waitsburg and Dayton, but none smaller than Dixie.
Statistics (for Walla Walla):
Average high temperature in August:
Average low temperature in January:
Growing season: 190 days.
Average snowfall in January: 19.8” (64.7” annually.)
Walla Walla County Median residential home price: $114,300.

Advantages: Proximity to good hunting and firewood sources in “The Blues.” Precipitation is sufficiently plentiful year-round to provide reliable dry land farming. Crops in the region include: Wheat, peas (including seed peas), barley, rye, sugar beets, alfalfa (for hay and seed), and of course the famous Walla Walla sweet onions. Sadly, even though the climate is favorable, truck farming has declined in the past few decades.(There used to be a wider variety of vegetables grown--but now most of the truck farmers have switched to the Walla Walla sweet onions since they are a more sure cash crop with few spoilage problems.)

Disadvantages: A Washington State maxiumum security prision is located near Walla Walla. This could prove problematic isn grid down situation! (it houses 16% of the state's worst criminals, including approximately 116 sex offenders. The current inmate population is 2277. Walla Walla is sometimes downwind from the Umatilla chemical weapons storage depot, depending on the winds. The large college-age population could produce a sizable displaced population in the event of a sudden-onset TEOTWAWKI. (There are three colleges and Universities in Walla Walla.) Heavy winter snowfall.

Grid Up Retreat Potential: 3 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Grid Down Retreat Potential: 7 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

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

I have been a fan of one and two cylinder engines for many years. I grew up seeing these old timers putt-putting away at the county fair. Stationary engines still have a surprisingly large hobbyist following in the U.S. and Australia. Steam engines dominated from the 1860s to 1890s. Then came several different styles of one and two cylinder gas or diesel engines. They were eventually supplanted by higher compression (Briggs and Stratton style) high RPM gasoline engines. Because of their simplicity, low compression/low RPM engines still have considerable utility for grid-down survival use. They were common on most American farms until rural electrification programs got into full swing and as high compression engines came into vogue. Here in the U.S., they stopped making low compression stationary engines in the 1930s. But I was surprised to read that they are still making low RPM Lister-type engines in India. See: http://www.boingboing.net/2005/10/03/listers_and_other_ol.html. (One thing about the Third World mentality--they never discard a useful set of tooling! Perhaps we should learn something from that...)

If you are worried about a long term TEOTWAWKI, I consider these "appropriate technology" for retreats. They are low RPM, most have "bomb-proof" cast iron cylinders, and they are easy to maintain and re-build. With a good size flywheel they can be used to run generators for battery bank charging. A small steam engine would work, but they are a bit more tricky to operate, and generally require more maintenance.

Mr. Rawles concerning the Wallowa Lake area a few points. Whether or not these are good or bad I leave to you. Around the lake itself the area is expanding as new homes are being built along the southern side of the lake. The region has become a popular tourist area due to events like the Chief Joseph Days which is held in August in Joseph. It includes a decent size rodeo and parade. In Joseph there are several large bronze foundries which serves to draw a number of folks to the area to see the works. Since a modest portion of the town's population is employed in the hospitality industry serving the guests it means that much of the income must be earned during the summer months. Winter in that part of the country can get intense which can severely limit access. According to my wife's grandparents who live in Lostine, real estate prices are climbing as more and more people "discover" the area. I hope these things help. Please keep up the great work with the site and thanks for the hard work. It is much appreciated. I have directed several of my like minded friends there. - M.S.

Hi Jim,
I understand that you are looking for more detailed information on Carolina retreat locales. My wife and I both grew up here and have traveled quite a bit of the state. We live in the western end of the state (The Blue Ridge Mountains.) As far as the East is concerned, I'm with Joel Skousen as he gives it an "A". As long as you stay out of Buncombe, Henderson, and Macon counties. They've been invaded by rich Floridians, yuppies, hippies and drug-heads. But they do offer many employment opportunities, especially in the elder-care, nursing home, health related fields.

We live at about 2,300 ft, have abundant rainfall, and average about 6 inches of snowfall per year. We live in a county of 29,000 folks, very conservative, good many retired as well. There are many retreat locales available here for sale. But the influx of "carpet baggers" has bid the price up in many places. NC definitely has a reputation as the most heavily taxed state in the Southeast. High gas taxes and emissions inspections are creeping westward as well. Luckily, there are only 2 interstates that cut through this end of the state, I-26 and I-40, but they don't come close to the areas we would want to be in.

Eric Rudolph gave the far western end of the state (Andrews/Murphy) a pretty bad reputation while he was on the lam. But that area has excellent retreat potential/low population as well. In many of these counties, methamphetamine/crack has become a big problem, with the petty robberies,etc that goes with it.

Should anyone have more detailed questions, they can e-mail me at: mountainstranger2003@yahoo.com Keep up the fine work!! - S.P.

The pin on my L1A1 bolt hold open was cut off. Do you have the part that holds the pin with a pin that has not been cut off? Thanks for the help. - The Texas Aggie

JWR Replies:
Most countries that issued the L1A1 foolishly specified them without a working automatic bolt hold-open (for after the last cartridge in the magazine is fired), even though it is part of the original design. This specification change was ostensibly done because they didn't want dirt or sand entering the action when the bolt was held open. I suspect, however, that it had more to do with making close order drill command for "inspection arms" (or the British equivalent) less cumbersome.

I don't sell bolt-hold-open (BHO) levers. However, BHOs with the hole pre-drilled--so that they are easily convertible to "open after the last shot in the magazine"--are available from a number of parts vendors including www.GunThings.com. (See the BHO comparison photos at the Gun Things web site before ordering.) If yours already has the cross-pin hole drilled then all that you need to "do it yourself" is clamp the BHO in a vise and use some sturdy pliers to twist and remove the short cross-pin. Then replace it with a longer one. (One that is long enough to engage the magazine follower.) This is much easier than trying to locate and drill a hole in a standard L1A1 BHO lever! For the cross pin, solid drill rod works best if you can find rod stock to match the correct diameter, but a roll pin (a.k.a. a tubular "spring" pin) usually works just fine. Adding a roll pin to the existing hole is quick and easy: Cut a roll pin to the same length as that on a metric FAL--long enough to be engaged by the magazine follower, but not so long that it will get hung-up at the wrong time. This can take some judicious filing. Just go slow or you might file off too much and then have to start over with a new roll pin.

I heard Dr. Bill Wattenburg on KGO last night talking about the Asian bird flu. I also read the link you gave to the article on WorldNetDaily. Dr. Bill really scared me this time! I am a bit depressed hearing what he said last night. He said that if the virus does make the jump to humans, it will kill half the population of the Earth. I'm not kidding he said that. He said it would be worse than a nuclear bomb going off in the major big cites because everyone would try to flee. Oh my God. I think we'll be living in caves at this rate of Doom and Gloom.
I think if that does happen, the grid will be up with hardly anyone using it. - Fred

JWR Replies: A species-line crossing mutation of the Asian Avian Flu is not likely. (I'd hazard a a guess at less than a 2% chance anytime in the next decade--perhaps some of the doctors who read SurvivalBlog would care to comment) But if Dr. Bill is right--if it does happen, then it would be devastating, possibly plunging the world into a second Dark Age. See my blog archives (including my post on August 8th and the the letter from Nurse "Alma Frances Livengood" that was posted on August 23rd). The latter described which drugs to keep on hand, just in case.

"Suburbs have become the heirs to their cities' problems. They have pollution, high taxes, crime. People thought they would escape all those things in the suburbs. But like the people in Boccaccio's Decameron, they ran away from the plague and took it with them."
- Charles Haar

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

I've got good news and bad news. The good news is that readership is up! The bad news is that because of the steadily increasing SurvivalBlog site traffic, I've had to upgrade our web hosting account with to one of our ISP's "Gold" accounts--which is nearly twice as expensive as our old account. (Was $143, now $311.) Even though I've tried to minimize the number and size of graphics, users are downloading more than 12 gigabytes per month. (They are small files, but there are lots of blog readers!) The recent increase in advertising revenue helps, but the support of individual readers is greatly appreciated! Thusfar, only five readers out of 58,000+ unique visitors have made a bandwidth fund contribution. :-( If you are not patronizing our advertisers, then a bandwidth contribution or perhaps a SurvivalBlog T-shirt order would be appreciated.

Today, I'm covering yet another region in Oregon in my detailed retreat locale analysis series.

The Wallowa Valley is in far north-eastern Oregon, in Wallowa County. The towns dotted along the valley (see map) include Wallowa, Lostine, Enterprise, and Joseph.

The following population statistics are courtesy of the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce:

Wallowa County: 7,150
Enterprise: 2,020
Joseph: 1,085
Lostine: 230
Wallowa: 760
Imnaha: 100

The median income in Wallowa is $28,603, versus the national average of $41,994.
(Source: 2000 U.S. Census )

The mountains ringing the Wallowa Valley get the lion's share of the precipitation, while the valley floor itself is fairly dry. The average precipitation for the entire county: 18.85 inches, Enterprise: 13.26 inches, City of Wallowa: 22.44 inches.

Growing season ranges from only 80 days in Enterprise to 120 days in the Imnaha River Valley.

Advantages: Some of the towns in the Wallowa Valley have 100% gravity fed municipal water systems. Proximity to good hunting and firewood sources in the nearby mountains. The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest makes a "big back yard" that stretches all the way into Idaho. More plentiful water than in many other parts of eastern Oregon. Livestock production includes cattle and sheep. Several lumber mills. Unlike the nearby Grande Ronde Valley, which has a major interstate freeway (I-84) passing through it, the Wallowa Valley is transited by a much smaller highway, so it is will not be as likely a refugee line of drift. Real estate is still reasonably priced.

Disadvantages: Short growing season compared to western Oregon. (But that is the price you pay for isolation and low population density.) Downwind from Seattle if the winds are atypical. Marginal agricultural diversity. (Not as diverse as the nearby Grande Ronde Valley.) The main crops are barley, wheat, grass hay, and alfalfa.

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

The Gun Owners of America (GOA) recently posted an interesting recap on the importance of privately owned firearms to defend lives and property, vis-a-vis Hurricane Katrina. For the vast majority of SurvivalBlog readers this is like preaching to the choir. But you might find it interesting. See: http://www.gunowners.org/no02.htm

Mr. Rawles:
Great site, I look at it every day that I am near a computer and learn something every time. One minor thing that I noticed the other day was your mention of some ranches in Eastern Oregon being several sections. You did say that a section is 640 acres but some readers might not understand the scale of things. Tell them that a section is one mile by one mile [square]. They may not have a feel for an acre but a box with a four mile perimeter is something all your readers will understand.

"The price of liberty is eternal vigilance" - Thomas Jefferson

Monday, October 3, 2005

Today I'm covering yet another region in Oregon in my detailed retreat locale analysis series. I'll be moving on to my recommendations in Washington later this week.

Recommended Region: The Illinois River Valley/Cave Junction Area (Josephine and Jackson Counties Southwest Oregon)(SAs: Retreat Selection, Relocation, Demographics, Oregon)

Note: Cave Junction is the home to both The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and WorldNetDaily , so it must have something going for it!
Statistics (for Grants Pass):
Average high temperature in August: 88.7.
Average low temperature in January: 31.1.
Growing season: 140 days.
Average snowfall in January: 3.2”.
Median residential home price (Grants Pass): $180,000.
Advantages: Because southwest Oregon is normally upwind of every nuclear target in the United States, it would receive more residual fallout from nuclear strikes in Russia and China than from any strikes in the U.S.! If you are mainly thinking in terms of nuclear risk then this is the place to be!
See: http://www.cavejunction.com/cavejunction/areainfo.shtml, and http://www.oism.org.
Disadvantages: Proximity to California' s Golden Horde. All of Oregon suffers from the creeping Nanny State mentality that emanates from Salem.
This region might be a good one to consider for someone who has strong business or family ties to Northern California.

I wanted to address a couple of things some of your readers have brought up recently. There's been a lot of well thought out letters on retreat sites that aren't in the west. That's great, I live on the east coast myself. I want to hear more about other locales, as I'm sure Jim does as well. If your state isn't on his list of retreat locations, don't take offense. As long as you're applying some of the same logic, ideas, and planning to your retreat location then you're doing far better than most survivalists, let alone sheeple. Jim also makes the distinction that
there's plenty of bad places to be in the West as well. Think about it, is living in Los Angeles better than living in the hills of West Virginia just because it's out west? Heck no, and you won't hear Jim saying that either. It's all about personal responsibility. It's your life, your plan, and you have to make choices. You are the only one that can decide your requirements. Likewise, you are the only one that can decide which path to take when requirements, reality, and resources conflict. I live in Virginia. I'll be the first to admit that where I live isn't exactly the 100% best location as a survivalist. I have a fairly nice urban set-up here, but I make no bones about the fact that it's untenable in some scenarios. It's where I choose to live for a variety of reasons. Those are my requirements and my choices.

Speaking of requirements competing for resources, David brings up a great point about money. During the timeframe that Jim actually started writing "Patriots" all of us that were in "The Group" were pretty darn poor. Most of us were college students, or recently graduated, so we weren't exactly "rolling in the dough" at the time. I can remember searching the seats of my 1965 Barracuda for quarters to buy a burrito. My character in the book is a pretty close approximation of what most of us had in terms of guns, gear, food, etc at the time. Now I have a job and have a bigger budget for survival stuff. Anyway, even though I find it easier to buy this or that, it's also easier to screw up and buy the wrong this or that. When I was dirt poor, I probably was a little more careful exactly how that money was spent. No, I wouldn't want to trade back into those days financially, but the point is there is always a way to maximize the situation that you are in.

Money is an important resource, but it's only one of several. Just work your preparations into your budget. It doesn't have to be big dollars. Five or Ten dollars a week will buy a lot of medical supplies at the local drug store in a couple months. A few dollars extra buying a couple of cans/packages of food at the grocery store over what you need will add up
fast. "Overbuying" logistics can be done in very small amounts so you don't really feel the increase. Just a couple bucks a week will do the job well. It also makes rotation easier, as it's stuff you use daily anyway. Since you use it daily, you are also more accustomed to that food as part of your diet, so when a problem comes, you aren't all of a sudden having a change
of diet adding to your stress. Thrift shops can be outstanding places to get gear, as can be various Internet boards. Networking with others will help things out. Even if it's just over the net, we as survivalists can help each other out in trading to level out various things we need. Maximize your training. It doesn't cost much to actually get into and stay in shape. That has huge benefits beyond anything you can buy. Taking a hike with your map and compass doesn't have to be a big affair. Even the most urban areas have some sort of park system worthy of exploring and getting some good out of it. Go camping for a couple of days, and practice the things you've read about in books or on the net. You'll get a big surprise how well (or not) all those things you've read about and think you know really work. There are an endless list of things you can do for training that are free, or low cost. You are better off with training than with gear anyway.

I have to agree with Jim, if there's one priority where money should go, it's food. The easiest way to tell someone that's truly prepared from a poseur is to ask, "How much food do you have stored?" rather than any question about guns.- "Doug Carlton"

Dear Mr. Rawles,
My copy of your book [Patriots] has been read by so many people that the binding is falling apart. I've read it three times myself.
Are there photo examples of the retreat doors and shutters?

Sorry, I cannot post pictures, due to OPSEC. I did my best to describe the shutter and door ballistic upgrades in detail in the novel. (In narrative form.) If you want to construct something similar, just be sure to take the weight into account when sizing the hinges, and remember that the hinges need to be attached to some substantial framing or masonry. And, of course think safety first when handling objects that heavy. If dropped, even just a single 1/4" plate could take off someone's kneecap or toes.

You mention Ayn Rand in the book. I've held off reading her material since she was an atheist. Is there benefit to some of her works?

Even though she wasn't a Christian, her observations on both human nature and the nature of government were quite accurate. I do recommend her writings. (I subscribe to the Conservative/Christian/Libertarian school of thought.)

I have two kids in the military, yet I don't know the break-down of troop unit sizes. (i.e.: fire team, rifle team, squad, platoon, company, etc.--from smallest to biggest)

To understand the basic U.S. Army structure, see This Concise Overview that was put together by GlobalSecurity.Org. But keep in mind that the entire Army is presently reorganizing into semi-autonomous Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs).

Love the blog!
Thanks for any help. - "Grandpa R."

I'm in the process of locating/purchasing a retreat home. My family (wife and four kids) and I live in [deleted for OPSEC] Florida and are looking for a place in the mountains. I've followed a lot of the guidance online for research, but I find the information between sites differ. If you have time, could you review the assumptions I'm using and add/subtract if needed? To help give some background, I'm a 40 year old USAF retiree with a background in disaster prep, manpower, deployment planning, and beddown/field feeding (I was a Services planner). I've got a master's in mental health and am working as a director of social services at a large nursing home/assisted living facility. So, I do have the basics of what to do when I get there but need to find the right place. I have kits and BoBs for every contingency, but know that in a TEOTWAWKI situation it's critical to get out of this state and off of the I-95/I -75 corridors.
Currently, we are looking at places in Graham County, North Carolina based on the elevation (2599-5500 ft), area population (27 per sq mile), and proximity to my home (11 hrs by vehicle, best case scenario). It's a further distance than I want, but the safety of the mountains is hard to ignore. Unfortunately, teh South Carolina mountains have too many nuclear plants nearby and Georgia's mountain are only accessible to us through Atlanta (no way). I know you are opposed to east coast locations, but do you know anyone that has scoped out this side of the United States?
Here is some of my criteria:
Inland: 60 miles from coast
Elevation: above 2000 ft
Remote: no city of 3,000 or more within 50 miles
House 5-10 mi out of town
5-10 acres of land
Hill and flatland
CBS or rock home preferred
Streams, pond on property

JWR Replies: From your list of requirements, I think that Eastern Tennessee might appeal to you. Stay tuned. I've been promised an article about that region from a local resident. I hope to post that piece sometime in the next two weeks. I'd also appreciate seeing comments from readers on the retreat potential either of the Carolinas.

"No man's life, liberty or property is safe when the legislature is in session." - Judge Gideon Tucker

Sunday, October 2, 2005

This region is blessed with plentiful water (the largest lake in the region) fertile soil (lake beds left behind by receding ancient lakes), and geothermal energy in some areas. Like the Rogue River region, the Klamath Falls region might be a good area to consider for someone who has strong business or family ties to Northern California. In a grid-up scenario it would be a great place for a retreat. However, in a grid down scenario where a mass out-migration from California could be expected, it might be marginal. because of the high elevation, you should build some large greenhouses! Buying land in a geothermal active locale be ideal. That way both your home and greenhouse could be geothermally heated. But keep in mind that it takes electricity to operate geothermal hot water circulating pumps. So in the event of a grid down situation, you will need a fully-capable photovoltaic power system.
Klamath Falls region crops: Hay, wheat, barley, oats, onions, potatoes, and sugar beets. Very nutritious blue-green algae is also skim-harvested from Klamath Lake.
Statistics (for Klamath Falls):
Average high temperature in August: 83.
Average low temperature in January: 19.9.
Growing season (Lakeview): 100 days.
Average snowfall in January: 3.6”.
Advantages: Plentiful water. Removed from the Interstate-5 corridor--which would be the likely Golden Horde route. Less snow than other parts of Oregon at similar elevation. Many homes in and near Klamath Falls have geothermal heating! Downwind from Portland only on rare occasions.
Disadvantages: Shorter growing season an less crop diversity than lower elevations in the region (such as the Umpqua Valley.) Proximity to 35+ million Californians.

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


Still No Body Armor Reimbursement for Deployed Troops (SAs: Supporting Our Troops, Field Gear, Body Armor)

The Associated Press just reported that nearly a year after Congress required the Defense Department to reimburse soldiers who purchased their own Kevlar body armor to protect themselves during Iraq deployments, the Pentagon still hasn't figured out how to do so. This is not surprising since last year DoD officials criticized the plan as “an unmanageable precedent that will saddle the DoD with an open-ended financial burden.” Methinks it is a sad state of affairs when we send our troops in harm's way with insufficient equipment. Regardless of your opinion about the Iraq war, I think that we can all agree that we need to provide the best gear possible to insure the safe return of our service members. It is also important to send them letters and gifts for encouragement.

Dear James,
Missouri has more to offer for retreat potential than almost any other state in your top 19! It has a much longer growing season than Montana or Idaho. Most rural areas have an abundance of excellent soil, good rains, abundant woods, pastures and gun friendly small towns. Missouri is one of the few states with a concealed carry law. [JWR adds: Actually, 34 states now have “shall issue” CCW permit laws on the books.] Hunting potential is good, since wild game is plentiful.

If you avoid the metropolitan areas of St. Louis on the far east of the state and Kansas City on the far west of the state, you have the entire state in the middle for retreat potential. Some might consider the booming area of Columbia, smack dab between St. Louis and Kansas City, to be an area to be avoided also. That however leaves an incredibly large area with few interstate highways, but abundant county highways that crisscross the state in a maze. (OBTW, Texas has the same “Farm to Market” roads. So why was everyone parked on the interstates when Hurricane Rita was approaching?)

There are few transplanted yuppies in the rural areas (we would be considered transplanted yuppies I suppose), which means most of your neighbors have lived in the area most of their lives, but the southwestern area of Missouri near Springfield is more populated with transplants who are heading for the good life to retire. Small holders who grow a good deal of their own food, raise chickens, sheep, goats, horses, rabbits are quite abundant south of I-70. Missouri is small-agriculture friendly. Once you get away from the counties surrounding the two major cities, most of the counties have NO ZONING. That means we can put up a windmill, build two more houses on our property (sewage has to comply with houses but it is VERY minimal), raise a diverse range of animals, slap up a fence …all without the permission of some zoning and planning commission.

Drawbacks: If you ask for almost anything organic, folks will stare at you like you have two heads. You are more likely to find Wonder White bread at the store than whole wheat anything. You had better like American cheese if you live in a truly small town or be prepared to drive quite a ways. Having a Super Wal-Mart within a half hour drive for us makes living here much more tolerable as otherwise we would have to drive to one of the three metro areas to get almost anything beyond the absolute basics.

More plusses: Most families here are religious even though only about half attend church. Schools are touch and go but the home schooling laws are very favorable. The abundance of ground water , aquifers, springs, creeks, streams, ponds, lakes make this an excellent state for becoming free of government water. Most areas are windy enough to warrant windmill power and of course we have plenty of sunny days for solar electric cells. The terrain is varied and runs the gamut from perfectly flat farm fields that mimic Nebraska, to windy curvy woodsy counties that mimic the lower Appalachian region. Our area is a lovely mix of flat farm fields interspersed between woods packed with deer and wild turkey.
We have lived in several states around the country and in each we searched for homestead property without success. Many small holder farms can be purchased here—but you may need to purchase through an auction rather than a real estate listing. Most small holders in the north half of the state are sold after an elderly person passes away and the family wants their money fast. Keep your financing prearranged with a local bank and get your bidding ticket! You just found Shangri-la. - Missouri Goat Lady


Mr. Rawles,
Great Blog site, I look at it daily. Katrina should be a wake-up for all the sheeple, but unfortunately many will still think that it is "something that will never happen here."
A little background on myself, I am a physician in mid Missouri, have spend over eight years on active duty military, and have been preparing for the "crunch" little by little. Moving every 2-3 years with the military made it hard to accumulate to much gear, but we have settled down in mid-Missouri now. Although not ideal, we settled close to family.
Missouri has several advantages including mild weather, good crop variety, and population is mainly clustered around St Louis on the East, Kansas City on the west, and Springfield in the southwest. Columbia is in mid-Missouri and it just topped 100,000 pop mark. The Minuteman missile sites were decommissioned with the last SALT/START talks. Disadvantages include rising land prices, Whiteman AFB (home of the B2 [strategic nuclear bomber]), and Callaway Nuclear Power Plant here in mid-Missouri. Other than the population centers, MO is fairly conservative, Concealed Carry passed recently (to the dismay of the socialists in STL). Interstate 70 bisects MO in half and connects STL and KC, and is a vital route of the country. The advantage is that with 1 out of 4 semis carrying some type of food stuffs, is outweighed by the fact that the "hordes" will most likely travel these main arteries. Tactically, there are many bridges in Missouri that can be brought down or blocked. The Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are just two of the largest waterways. There are several prisons in Missouri and it is definitely something to look at when/if TSHTF, since these will probably add to the refugee crisis, except they will be the worse element. I would hope in a grid down situation that prison doors default to lock down but who knows. I saw in New Orleans that prisoners were evacuated from the city before most of the population.

Those close to STL and south of it need to be aware of the New Madrid Fault zone that extends down through Illinois, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Some predict a major quake in the next 5 to 10 years, and most experts say the most structures would not withstand much, especially in the city of St. Louis. Hope this helps your view on Missouri. If I can be of any help on specifics to Missouri please let me know, also please feel free to run any medical type questions my way. I am watching your blog closely for the "ultimate" area to set up. I have been considering moving closer to the Rockies.

Here are some good links you may want to add Virtual Naval Hospital Emergency War Surgery www.vnh.org/EWSurg/EWSTOC.html and The Borden Institute http://www.bordeninstitute.army.mil

Also do you know if 'surplus' mil vehicles are any more EMP proof that regular ones? I have been looking at a surplus CUCV 4x4 diesel truck. Mike W., MD

JWR Replies: Thanks for sharing your insight. The CUCV is a good choice, and they are still available at bargain prices. One good source for milsurp vehicles in your general region is Dave Uhrig's Military Vehicle Sales and Appraisal. For versatility, I prefer the pickup style models. I have read that CUCVs are essentially EMP proof because they have traditional glow plug (not chip controlled) and traditional fuel pumps.

JWR Adds: Boston T. Party's ranking (in Boston's Gun Bible) for Missouri on firearms freedom is only 51%.

Hi Sir,
Just wanted to drop you a brief line about a couple of things you might find interesting.

Iraq has been a surprise to me. Accommodations are nicer than expected, with running water indoors for showers and urinals (gravity fed from tanks ;) electricity (albeit 220 VAC rather than 110 VAC ) etc.
However, I'm terribly disappointed in the way we fight. It's been, for lack of a better term, garrisonized. "Higher" cares more about whether you have holes in your cammies than if you can fight, they expend more manpower building walkways with sandbags than reinforcing the buildings, and worst of all they're stingy with the ammo. I've got empty mags, empty grenade pouches, and we carry 1/3 of what we should for the M240 [MMG] on top of the truck. I truly don't understand. Do we not rate ammo? It's a war, isn't it?

After some reflection I'd have to say it's really not. It's not even a "police action" in the Vietnam/Korea sense. It's an armed humanitarian effort. We're like Triple Canopy or Blackwater on an international scale. It's frustrating, but jarheads are nothing if not adaptable.

IEDs have been getting fewer but bigger. All our trucks are armored to some degree, and the old "a couple 155s" style IED doesn't cut it. My company hasn't been hit much yet, but the Army and one of the line co's have been nailed pretty good. The Army even had a Bradley get mobility killed the other day. Not easy, those things are tough.

I'm looking forward to Ramadan and the elections. We're hoping it'll spur the bad guys to come out in force instead of sniping, IEDs, and hit and run attacks they prefer now. I'm getting tired of raiding houses and ending up holding a bunch of women and kids at gunpoint.

Have to cut this short, my section about to go on QRF and I've gotta get back to the hootch. Stay low and watch six. - John in Iraq

I love the site. I also just picked up Patriots for $19 at a local gun show. I love it and am learning just how much I haven't thought about. That leads into my big question; how do you prepare thoroughly on a budget? I make less in one year than some of the characters in your book SPENT on supplies in a year. What can I do to be ready making $20,000 or less a year? Also, I can't leave Ohio because both my parents are getting older, any ideas on a retreat or on securing a house in the outer burbs? Thanks for any help you can give. - David

JWR Replies: I recommend that you cut out unnecessary expenses and set your budget priorities. Food first! By only setting aside about $2,000 per year, you can store a LOT of food, fuel; and other necessities, in short order. To get the most for your money, buy in bulk from suppliers like Ready Made Resources and Walton Seed. Team up with like-minded friends for major purchases that can be shared. (Commo gear, rototiller, chain saws, and so forth.) Take heart in the fact that even if you are only able to make modest preparations with a deep larder you will be the equivalent of a wealthy man, post-TEOTWAWKI.

The suburbs will be probably quite survivable in a grid up situation. But in the event of a grid down TEOTWAWKI, you need to be ready to beat feet. You will need a rural retreat destination to share with relatives or friends that you can trust. I keep harping on this but it is crucial: You need to pre-position the vast majority of your "beans bullets and band-aids" at your retreat, because you may have only one trip out of town before the roads are blocked or become unsafe to drive.

"By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail."
- Ben Franklin

1.4 million page hits, and counting! Today I'm covering another region in Oregon in my detailed analysis series.

It would be greatly appreciated if you mention SurvivalBlog when doing business with our advertisers, or other companies that would be good potential advertisers for the Blog. (In the blog threads we mention dozens of companies that would benefit from advertising on SurvivalBlog.)

Saturday, October 1, 2005

This remote region was settled by cattlemen like Pete French and my great-great aunt's husband, David Lawson Shirk. (Two of my Crow family relations each married Shirks.) The area is still dominated by large cattle ranches and some hay farms. This may sound foreign to some of the blog readers that live back east but many of these eastern Oregon ranches span multiple sections. (A section of land is 640 acres.) 2,000 to 5,000 acre or larger ranches are not unusual. Some owners use a light plane to keep track of their livestock.
Advantages: Low population density. Excellent hunting and fishing. Well removed from Portland and other metropolitan regions. In the event of a fast-onset TEOTWAWKI, this region will probably be overlooked by California's Golden Horde. (The portions of the Horde that swarm into Oregon will primarily follow Interstate 5 to the Willamette Valley.) Like the Rogue River region, the Steens Mountain region might be a good area to consider for someone who has strong business or family ties to Northern California.
Disadvantages: Isolation from commerce. (It is a long drive to Klamath Falls, Bend, or Redding for shopping!) Lack of diverse agriculture.(Not enough truck farming.) Colder winters and hotter summers than in western Oregon.
Downwind from Portland for most of the year. (Depending on the vagaries of the jet stream.)
Statistics (for Burns):
Average high temperature in August: 84.4.
Average low temperature in January: 14.5.
Growing season: (Fields, Oregon): 122 days.
Average snowfall in December: 12.5”.

Grid Up Retreat Potential: 3 (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: 6 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

In a truly long-term TEOTWAWKI scenario, the ability to fashion and shape metal will become critical. If you can work with metal, you will be able to make tools; repair, fashion and heat treat gun parts; fabricate household, farm and mechanical implements of all shapes and sizes; and have a valuable trade to generate income or barter for goods and services. On the frontier west, no town was complete until it had a working Smithy. To start into blacksmithing, you need two things: tools and information. The good news is that you can make many of your own tools and the information is readily available in various print mediums, as well as being obtainable in the fiery crucible of trial and error.

The initial basic tool load out will consist of an anvil, forge, blower, tongs and fuel. Look for an anvil in flea markets, farm sales and auctions. If money is not an issue, buy a new anvil. Expect to pay at least $1.00 to $1.50 per pound for a used anvil and $400 to $800 for a new one. Heavier is better than lighter, but remember, you may have to carry it somewhere, but get one that weighs at least 100 pounds. Make sure your anvil has the square hardie and round Pritchel holes through the top and that the edges aren’t too beat up. Look for an anvil that rings when lightly struck with a hammer (get permission from the owner before you go whanging away on his anvil). Avoid the cheap Chinese imports if at all possible.
The best vise for blacksmithing is a post, or leg, vise. It has a healthy post that goes from the jaws of the vise down to the ground, thereby transferring the force of hammer blows away from the vise threads directly to the ground. A regular mechanics vise will work but get a heavy-duty one, and have a spare.
The forge doesn’t have to be anything fancy; you need a place to build a fire, and a way to deliver air into the heart of the fire. Make sure the forge is capable of holding a fire of the correct size to do what you want to do. For example, if you want to make swords, you want to be able to build a long fire; that implies a larger forge.
Rick’s Maxim # 1. It is easier to build a small fire in a large forge than it is to build a large fire in a small forge.
Many people build their fireboxes out of metal, brick, old truck wheels, charcoal grills, wood, and even wheelbarrows. Once you have decided on a firebox, line it with fire bricks and/or fire clay. Even sand or red Georgia clay will work in a pinch. The object of lining the firebox is to insulate the box to keep it from burning through (your leg) and to conserve the heat of the fire. When you plan out your forge, make sure there is a way to get pieces longer than the forge down to where the fire actually is.
Introduce air into the fire through an opening in the bottom of the firebox through an opening called a tuyret. Traditionally made of clay, the tuyret can be as simple as a pipe bolted to a pipe flange on the bottom of the forge with a grate of some sort. Mine is just that, made of 1” diameter pipe. The grate is a piece of 1/8” steel with holes punched through it to allow airflow. Be cautious when using galvanized as the zinc coating releases toxic fumes when heated. If the air handling apparatus is exposed to direct fire, use black gas line rather than galvanized pipe.

The blower can be manually or electrically operated. The manual blowers are generally of a bellows construction or a rotary cranked blower. The manual rotary blowers are, if not common, at least they can be found at flea markets. If the grid is up, or you have a solar/battery/inverter setup operational, it is convenient to use an electric blower, AC or DC. Squirrel cage blowers can be salvaged off of cars, old oil heaters, and the like. The exhaust port of a shop-vac makes a fine, though noisy, blower. It is efficient to have a foot operated on-off switch to save wear and tear on your coal supply. Also, have some way to adjust the air supply, either by constricting the airflow, or by diverting some of the airflow away from the fire. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive.
Tongs can be made with specialized jaws to accommodate particular pieces of metal: flat for general-purpose tongs, round for pipe and rods, the possibilities are nearly unlimited. Your first set of tongs might be a pair of large channel-locks with long handles to keep your hands away from the heat of the fire. Speaking of heat, it is a good idea to get some heat resistant gloves similar to what the firemen use. Regular heavy-duty leather gloves are better than nothing, but they heat up in a hurry.
This brings me to Rick’s Maxim # 2: “Just because a piece of metal is not glowing red, doesn’t mean that it’s not hot.” Get some gloves!
The forge can be gas fueled, use coal, charcoal or even wood; but my preference is coal. To start a coal fire, use some wood kindling to get a blaze going then pile the coal around and over the fire and hit it with some air from the blower. Fat lighter makes really good kindling.
One of the first tools you should make is a poker to poke at and arrange the fire. Something a couple feet long with an ‘L’ shaped end like a craps dealer might use in Vegas to rake in the chips, and a ring to hang it up with on the other end. Another useful tool used to control the fire is a small soup can with a wire bail on a handle similar to the poker. Punch a few holes in the bottom of the can with a nail and use it to dip water out of your quench tank to control the fire. You only need to burn the coal in the immediate vicinity of the metal you are working, so use the water sprinkler to suppress the fire on the periphery.
Buckets – get two or three buckets, one for water quenching and one for oil (used motor oil works okay). Five gallon buckets work, but a 20 gallon metal can is much better. On the oil bucket, have some sort of a lid to smother out flash fires. Sometimes when you put hot steel into the oil it will flash up, burn, and splatter flaming oil droplets in all directions.
This leads us to Rick’s Maxim #3: “Never blacksmith without a shirt on.”

It is beyond the scope of this article to go into much detail about projects. Information abounds on the WWW and there are many fine books on blacksmithing. Many areas have blacksmith guilds and associations. Practice, practice, practice.
The first things you might want to build are simple objects to get the hang of it: hooks, pokers, tripods to cook over, blacksmithing tools such as tongs and hardie mounted hot chisels. Fireplace pokers are a good learning project as well as simple farm tools like hay hooks, log dogs, and pinch bars.
It is difficult to move large amounts of metal using hand tools so, when you have a bigger project, get at least a sledgehammer and a willing accomplice to swing it. This is why they invented power hammers; I suspect it was the "willing accomplice" that first got the idea. Practice making square things round and round things square. Practice putting decorative twists into square stock. When welding, don’t use heavy blows, easy does it and use Borax for flux.
One important thing to note is that when you are heating your metal in the fire, always have a plan of exactly what you are going to do to that piece of metal when you take it out of the fire. Picture in your mind how you will hold it, what tools you will need, and where and when you are going to strike or bend.
Rick’s Maxim #4 clearly states, “Indecision is not always the key to flexibility.”
Pay close attention to the irons you have in the fire, when you get distracted then turn around and see yellow sparks flying away from the metal, it’s too late, you’ve burnt up the steel. This is where the expression “Having too many irons in the fire” originated.

Much raw material can be salvaged from cars and trucks. For example, coil and leaf springs, struts, steering parts, etc. If you need a long square stock, you will be able to straighten out a coil spring and pound it square- learn to look at the potential of a piece of steel and don’t be constrained by it’s current shape. There are many other sources of raw material; the world is our scrap pile.

We live in a "disposable" society. Presently, if it breaks or wears out, folks get a new one. In a TEOTWAWKI society, that will come to a screeching halt. Re-supply will be limited and we will have to “improvise, adapt, and overcome”. Blacksmithing is a traditional trade that has evolved into an art form and primitive curiosity. It is fairly inexpensive to break into and great fun to practice. Someday it may again become a valuable trade.

JWR Adds: I greatly appreciate Rick sharing his knowledge and insights. Some important provisos: Always wear the appropriate safety items when working metal. Goggles or at least safety glasses with side guards are a MUST. Sturdy boots and a shop apron are highly recommended. Never work around fire alone, and always keep a big fire extinguisher handy.

You can never have too many references. Look for blacksmithing books in used book stores and on Amazon.com or eBay. OBTW, the books that look the grungiest are often the best--the grunge shows that they were used as actual workshop references. The Boy Scout merit badge on blacksmithing is a surprisingly complete starter book. The tome titled The Complete Modern Blacksmith by Alexander G. Weygers is a great resource. It is the book to buy if you want to get serious about blacksmithing. Weygers really knows his stuff! (Used copies are often available on Amazon.com.) Some other good references on blacksmithing are cited at http://journeytoforever.org/at_blacksmith.html

Look for use anvils, hammers, tongs, files, chisels blowers, and such at farm auctions. Leaf springs are one of my favorite items to salvage for re-forging. You can make everything from a knife to a scythe to a crossbow out of a leaf spring. If you scrounge around, you can find a lot of scrap steel free if you ask. Given enough time, with a forge, fuel, an anvil, a hammer, a good cold chisel, a few files, (and of course plenty of scrap steel) you can make just about any other tool that you need!

Hope all is well with you and your tribe. I have two books you should check out if you have not seen them. 1.) Herbs to the Rescue, by Kurt King M.H., This book is a must to have in the G.O.O.D. pack. 2.) Ditch Medicine by Hugh L. Coffee, also has a video, a good book. My wife and I are both in an Master Herbalist course.It is fun lots to learn, my goal is to be doc-free.The school name, School of Natural Healing in Springville,Utah.

My brother and I were talking trucks, I just got a 1983 Chevy Suburban--it runs good and has a good body. We paid only $900 for it so far so good. My plan is to go bumper to bumper, "born again" Chevy. Any ideas on what to do would be nice, and I try to stay on top of the site. As always, good work. Your site is like fresh air. I'm lovin it! - Paul in Seattle

Could you give me some advice/direction on purchasing a HF Transceiver for use in emergency communications events. Money is limited (like when is it not) but I want something that is a good all around investment. Most bang for the buck so to speak. I have background in radio/tv. Thank you so much!

JWR's Reply: Your best bet is a probably a "pre-digital" vintage rig from the 1970s--perhaps a Kenwood. Just make sure that it is set up to run on 12 VDC so that you can use a vehicular mount or run it from a retreat solar power/battery bank or generator/battery bank power system. And be sure that it is guaranteed for "no DOA"--you wouldn't want to get one with burned out finals. The "pre-digital" models sell at deep discounts. Why? Like car buyers, most hams want to own the latest and greatest. Just do a search on eBay for "HF Transceiver", and sort by price. You may get lucky and find one for under $175 if the other bidders are sleeping.

We are living on our "retreat" now in the Quachita area of Arkansas. After a terrible storm yesterday and a power outage that is still going because Entergy [the local power utility company] has so much going on with the hurricanes, I can wholeheartedly recommend that everyone turn off their power for a weekend and make a list of things they haven't thought of. Hubby and I have decided on more things that we should get. The generator is getting a good workout and we now know how much gas it consumes per hour and can plan accordingly. A couple of flashlights went "dead" and we realized we had forgotten to get new 6 volt batteries for them. The chickens were terrified of the storm and the dark and we realized how difficult the set up is for the generator to power the chicken coup, so more planning. I have more on my list, but I think you and everyone gets the idea. You can plan and plan, but you need to do a dress rehearsal. We are loving the new blog. Keep up the great work. Thanks so much. - Mrs. C.K.

Hi Jim and Memsahib:
Observing the failure of the Rescue and Medical Infrastructure after hurricane Katrina, cemented in my mind the absolute necessity of having the knowledge, skills and tools to take care of oneself, loved ones and neighbors. Procuring beans, bandages and bullets is useless if one does not possess the knowledge and skills to use them. We train (or should) regularly with our firearms to keep our skills honed. Food preparation is a daily event for most so those skills come automatically and require minor alteration in a survival situation. When it comes to medical skills and knowledge most of us have little or no skills at all in that area. We all need to up the priority! Finding and going to a well qualified Combat Medicine School in the US is a must for all in the perilous times we live. For those who have the financial resources and time, Medical Corps is conducting a 3 day Combat Medicine School November 18, 19 and 20, 2005. Classes will be at the Ohio State University Extension Campus, Caldwell, Ohio. The cost is $325.00. This is one of the finest schools on the planet and people from all over the world attend. Classes run for 8 hours a day, beginning at 9 am on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. School check-in is from 8 am to 9 am Friday morning. Lunch will be at noon. All materials and handouts will be furnished. Video cameras may be used and still photos may be taken. The school is open to all, regardless of knowledge, experience, or skill level. No prior medical experience or knowledge is required. The school is a must for families, first responders and especially travelers. Many State agencies send their first responders to this class so it fills up quickly. Combat Medicine was introduced to the public by Medical Corps in 1995. These principles are now applied in civilian settings, and as the world has seen, the lifesaving results are unequaled at over 98%. For those who never have had any NBC training the tuition is worth just learning this area of instruction alone. Medicalcorps.org http://www.medicalcorps.org/. If one cannot attend the school they can freely download many of the subjects or order CDs here: http://www.brooksidepress.org/products.htm. Regards, - "F1"

Hello Again,

I am a faithful daily reader of your new baby, and at the end of each day, am disappointed that yet another session comes to an end only to be "continued" next eve. (A good problem as you have ignited my appetite for knowledge)! I should have, but did not follow your advice about a "grid down" weekend. Last week, we lost power late at night, and boom ...where?s the generator transfer plug? Where's my rechargeable flashlight, et cetera. Faithful Readers, Listen to Mr. Rawles, we are benefiting from his knowledge!

After your wake up call on Monday September 26th's entry, I am again finding myself questioning my ability to G.O.O.D at TEOTWAWKI. I ask since I do not know, would sheet Lead be of any help around our vulnerable engine components? Any idea's out there on a "DAILY DRIVER" fix that would keep the EMP out? What about our ATVs, is there any technologic age that is less vulnerable to the threat?

I have been watching the video series from Ready Made Resources about Soviet Civil Defense. When the Heck are we the American People going to get with the times and enact new plans? Our country is only a terrorist attack away from mass chaos. Thank You So Much, - The Wanderer

JWR Replies: You aren't the first to mention this. But metal shielding is not the key issue. Shielding would only work if the ignition circuitry were disconnected from your car's wiring harness at the time of an EMP burst--since the wiring harness will work like an antenna, feeding EMP to the ignition circuits. The biggest issue is the gate size of the microcircuits (chips) included in your car or truck's ignition and fuel injection systems. To be invulnerable to EMP, you can either buy a vehicle with a "pre-electronic" ignition (the old type with points, rotor, and condenser) or you can have a more recent non-fuel-injected vehicle retrofitted with a traditional ignition system. Ask your local car mechanic for details on whether or not that is practicable for one of your current vehicles. (Preferably your 4WD.) Regarding your other question: Sorry, but ATV ignition systems are outside of my body of knowledge. Perhaps a blog reader can fill us in.

"The entire world economy rests on the consumer; if he ever stops spending money he doesn't have on things he doesn't need -- we're done for." - Bill Bonner, Editor of The Daily Reckoning

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