November 2006 Archives

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The recent early snow cover and unseasonably cold weather at the Rawles Ranch has changed the habits of the local deer. Now they are visiting our feeder to browse on some grass/alfalfa mix hay, even at mid-day. It looks like this may be a hard winter. Hopefully we won't lose too many young deer, elk, and moose. The eating habits of the Rawles clan have changed too. There is definitely more interest in Chili con Bambi, Clam Chowder, and Hot Cocoa.

Hi Jim.
While reviewing accessories for the MURS radios, I perused my way onto this Ham radio site that is loaded with links to other sites and/or articles on antenna building for literally all of the radio spectrum.Of particular interest is this site for converting an old outdoor television antenna into a 2 meter (144-148 MHz) Yagi (beam) antenna for very little money:

Since many of the readers of SurvivalBlog are interested in communications I feel these other sites would be helpful as well, here are some other useful sites regarding ham and CB radio repairs
Roger Bird

Antennas and design software:
Andrew's Page
RF Cascade

Prices on used equipment with pictures.

Scanner frequencies by state and city/town.
Lastly, for the real brave do-it-yourselfer here's a link to a site that outlines how to build a 10 or 24ghz Gunnplexer

Hoping all stays well, - Joe from Tennessee

Defeat the Coin Act of 2006, by Lee Rogers at The Funny Money Report. Here is an excerpt: "Over this past summer a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives called the Currency Overhaul for an Industrious Nation. This bill is also referred to as the Coin Act of 2006 or House Resolution 5818. Introduced by Representative Jim Kolbe from Arizona the bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology this past August. The purpose of the bill according to the text of the bill itself is to modernize the legal tender of the United States, and for other purposes. The mainstream media has sold this bill to the American people as legislation that will move to get rid of the penny. Even though that is one of the proposals included in the bill, there are much more significant things in the bill which makes me dead set against it.

The implications of the U.S. Mint being put in the hands of the banking cartel is another major problem. If the Federal Reserve gets control of it, I wonder how long it will take before they order a stop to the production of collectible U.S. gold coins. Or for that matter, how long would it take for them to eliminate the production of all U.S. coins? Obviously if rampant inflation continues, we will either see a change in the composition of the coins or an elimination of them." The preceding article excerpt was forwarded courtesy of Tom W. at

Hi Jim,
Last week you discussed your preference for communication modalities for use in disasters and their order of importance. Obvious by omission were two modes that I thought might have distinct utility: a radio scanner (to monitor weather, traffic accidents and attendant backups, police and fire activity, etc.) and a transceiver with frequencies in the amateur bands (160, 80, 40, 20, 10 and 6 meters and the centimeter bands).
Will you please provide your thoughts on the utility of these devices and whether or not you think they are worth the trouble (expense and licensing)?
Thanks for your input. - Jim H.

JWR Replies: I previously strongly emphasized the importance of owning a scanner, but I consider them less important now. There are several reasons for this: First, and foremost, the majority of police and sheriffs departments now use scramblers or encryption devices for all but their most mundane traffic. Even some fire departments now use scramblers. Second, one of the other major uses of a scanner was the ability to receive NOAA weather broadcasts. But most MURS radios and 2 Meter handi-talkies can be programmed for those frequencies, so if you own a set of MURS band walkie-talkies (such as those sold by MURS Radios), then this is a redundant feature. Ditto for most of the recent production digitally tuned general coverage shortwave receivers. (They usually have a one touch "WX" button.) Lastly, there is the "information overload" factor for someone manning a Charge of Quarters ("CQ") desk. Scanner chatter is just one more distraction for someone that is concentrating on monitoring field telephones, intrusion detection sensors, security cameras, and a local CB or MURS security coordination radio network. And since less and less of what you will hear on scanners in the future will relate useful tactical/situational information (because of increasing encryption, as previously noted) then I recommend that if you have a scanner that you leave it turned off most of the time. Yes, a scanner does have its uses and each family should probably own one. There will often be Public Service Band traffic that will be broadcast "in the clear" (unencrypted) that will have significance--adding to your situational awareness. But, in general, scanners are considerably less important for TEOTWAWKI planning than they were a decade ago. Put one on your purchasing list, but fairly far down the list. BTW, the scanner model that I like the best is the old reliable (but sadly discontinued) Bearcat 800 XLT. Used ones can often be found for less than $50 on eBay.


Tom W. at sent this one, from "Hedge Funds Overleveraged, Sprott warns"

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Reader CM writes: "A fascinating look at how Mr. Bernanke is radically increasing the money supply, and lying about it..The link is to a DailyKos diary but don't let that
deter you - the charts and information that it contains are worth the look."

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Northern Tool & Equipment (one of our affiliate advertisers) is offering sitewide Free Gift Cards with purchases over $100. This limited time promotion started Monday, November 27th and goes through Monday, December 4th. You will need to enter keycode 94660 in order to receive their free gift card.

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In case you missed it back in September, The War on Guns blog featured an interesting interview with novelist Matt Bracken. (The author of Enemies Foreign and Domestic, and Domestic Enemies.)

"[W]hen you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing- when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors- when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you- when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice- you may know that your society is doomed." - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The cold spell here in the vicinity of the Rawles Ranch is continuing. Last night's low was -11 degrees Fahrenheit. (Or, as they call it here in The Un-named Western State: "Shirtsleeves Weather.")

My sincere thanks to the less than 1/2 of 1% of SurvivalBlog readers that have signed up for 10 Cent Challenge subscriptions. You 63 people know who you are. Subscriptions are entirely voluntary, and gratefully accepted.

Hi Jim,
I found another vest that some of your readers might be interested in if they like to "load up" like I do, but without having to use a medium ruck sized back pack. It's made by Eagle Industries out of St. Louis and it's called the Eagle Hunter's Vest (product code HV-CH). It's one-size-fits-all and its carrying capacity can be increased by adding a "butt pack" type pack also sold by Eagle that straps to the upper back of the vest. I have used a number of their products over the years while deployed [overseas] with the Army and have found the quality of material and workmanship to be excellent.
While deployed this time, I get to your site almost every day. I've been recommending it to those I work with. It's definitely worth the 10 Cent Challenge. Take care, - Z in Iraq

Hi Jim.
Just felt the need to re-emphasize the point you made with regard to Mr. Yankee's ideas about an improvised fallout shelter.

First, I applaud his view that one should not count on being able to pull together an adequate expedient shelter when the need arises. As simple in theory as it seems, in practice, few would end up with a shelter they would want to rely on to save the lives of their loved ones.

Second, as far as the point you made, Jim, it is indeed very important to over-engineer any sort of structure that will be bearing the loads necessary for a fallout shelter.

I need to point out that I want to do everything in my power to encourage folks to buy or build their own shelters, whether it is from us or not. Why? I feel it's very possible that the number of adequate shelters in the USA will go a long way toward defining our future viability. So I always hesitate to discourage folks in any way when they talk about what they feel are good, easy shelter ideas ... but really are simply short cuts that as you pointed out could end up killing them.

To anyone thinking about this, if you're going to build your own fallout shelter, then be darn sure it is built to last for decades under the most stressful conditions you can imagine. (Better yet, under conditions a structural engineer can imagine.) If it turns out you need to spend any time at all in your shelter, you sure don't want to be thinking about how you cut some corners to save a few bucks, or that you did just enough to probably hold up when you have to start topping off the loads.

A "for instance": There are a lot of arm-chair, Internet shelter designers who like to propose grand designs for underground shelters made of storage containers. Bad idea! They may look great as you are backfilling and burying them, but they are not built to withstand subterranean forces. They will catastrophically fail at some point--probably sooner than later. Believe me, if they would work, there would be plenty of us selling them as bargain-basement solutions.

As I said, I want to encourage folks to do the best they can to provide a decent shelter for their loved ones. It's important, and when you get it done well, it's peace of mind that you can't otherwise buy or manufacture. If you're going to do it at all, do it very, very well.

Besides the need for Mr. Yankee to think seriously about shoring up his floor overhead and perhaps his walls, I'd ask him to try not to get too clever with what it is that will serve as his shielding mass. Salt will work, as will any material (including air), but the key is how much will get the job done? I suspect that one would need a whole lot of salt to provide the needed mass.

A quick rule of thumb many can benefit from when looking at how well to shield their survival space: Shielding that reduces gamma ray intensity by 50% includes .4 inch of lead, 2.4 inches of concrete, 3.6 inches of packed dirt or 500 ft of air. One should aim for 10 times the halving protection using these guidelines when constructing your fallout shelter ... such as 36 inches of earth or 24 inches of concrete or 4 inches of lead (not practical) or say, 12 inches of concrete and 18 inches of earth. This is a minimal level of protection, I feel. Of course, overkill in shielding is great as long as the supporting structure is built to withstand it. - Vic at Safecastle


Hi Jim,
I applaud Mr. Yankee for starting to think about constructing a Fallout Shelter. Over the past few months, I have been giving some consideration to the very same thing. But, after researching various “expedient” shelters such as the one described by Mr. Yankee (available in FEMA publications), I came to the conclusion that these are inferior, last minute, “make do” constructs. Given the time available to plan, it just makes sense to do the job properly.
Time and Space
I am constantly amused at how little time people think that they will be spending in a fallout shelter. Somehow, they seem to equate a nuclear incident with that of a passing thunder storm/tornado. The problem is that while a storm does its thing and moves on (or dies out), a nuclear event has two components: The Blast and the Fallout. What most folks do not realize is that it’s the Fallout that is “the gift which keeps on giving” (gamma radiation). And, in most cases, people will need to create Fallout Shelters to protect and shield themselves from the gamma radiation contained in the Fallout. Those who live in target rich areas should consider building a Blast Shelter.
Figuring on a minimum of two weeks (but more likely a month) in the shelter to allow the radiation to taper off, leads one to consider not only providing for clean Air, Food, Water, Clothing, Beds; but also Sanitation, Exercise, Entertainment. Now, add an average family of four people into the equation and things become more interesting.
I am reminded of the old gag question: "How many college students can you fit into a telephone booth?"
A 12’x 8’ (and what height?) basement room is not going to be enough physical space to handle the family and all the other things they will need for the duration in the shelter. - Douglas in CT


Dear Jim,
I believe Mr Yankee is unclear on his terminology. Concrete or other mass won't stop fallout. Air filters stop fallout, which is radionuclide particles. These generally precipitate out in a few hours/few days. A good soaking of the surrounding ground with soap solution will wash them into the soil and lessen the danger of inhalation/contact (from stirring up the dust). The reason nuclear residue from weapons is dangerous is because of its high energy. At the same time, that high level of radiation means it has a short half life. There are long term risks of cancer and such, but the immediate risk is quite controllable. An expedient method is to tape windows shut and use dryer lint between screens as air filters, drawing up from under a cover. A sprinkler over the intake to create a water curtain will improve effectiveness. Obviously, HEPA filters are preferred, if available.
Direct radiation (Which is what I believe he means by "fallout") is stopped by concrete, compacted Earth or other dense materials such as lead. Most modern military warheads are efficient enough that exposure to lethal levels of radiation means one is already within the radius of overpressure or thermal blast. Obviously, improvised devices are not so clean, and there is danger near the edges of an explosion where one can be exposed to dangerous levels. He is correct that food cans won't stop such radiation. On the other hand, metals will. Lead is the classic choice, but gold, silver, copper (you might see where that is going) and even steel are of some effect, as is the mass of the house and any outside walls--radiation travels in straight lines, and if the blast is directly overhead, you won't feel a thing. Copper plates overhead, with a layer of brick or such, plus the outside walls of the house, a berm, trees, nearby terrain features or intervening buildings will all absorb some of the radiation front.
I would recommend against storing materials one plans to use so they can double as shielding. The shielding can absorb neutrons and re-emit them as ionizing radiation. This is very unhealthy. The copper, lead or steel used as such needs to be avoided after the fact, especially on the blast side. It would be a decent gesture not to trade such materials off to the unsuspecting to get sick and die from.
I agree on over-engineering and then covering with concrete or compacted Earth. Something mentioned here before that is quite affordable is a used CONEX box, which is designed to take high weight on the edges and corners. A fairly simple bracing atop it (Any mechanical engineer or even a good construction contractor should be able to calculate what's needed) will support more than enough mass to act as shielding. This can be planted outside the basement with a drainage bed of gravel underneath, accessible from inside, and reducing the risk of the house collapsing atop the shelter. - Michael Z. Williamson

Are you searching for retreat locales? There is a great site that I often mention to my consulting clients for surveying the extent and types of agriculture in various regions. It is available from Purdue University's horticulture department.

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I was doing a web search and I found this interesting video on British SAS operations, available for free download. It shows the planning and execution of a 28 day Observation Post (OP) mission. I was surprised to see how much detail they included about their weapons and field gear ("kit"), organization, and tactics. There are definitely some useful tidbits--particularly about tactical field discipline and how they pack their Bergen rucksacks--that preppers will find useful.

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Tom W. at suggested watching this "train wreck, in slow motion." - The US Dollar Index (USDX) continues to tumble.

"If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under." - Ronald Wilson Reagan

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Wintery weather has come to the Rawles Ranch. The low this morning was 2 degrees Fahrenheit. I love splitting wood at this time of year. There is nothing quite like splitting wood on a crisp morning when the temperature is under 10 degrees. When it is frozen solid, the wood practically explodes when the splitting maul hits it. And for the record, my favorite woods for firewood are oak, tamarack, and red fir.

Mr Rawles:
My first family vacation is coming up and we'll be in New Zealand for three weeks. I'll be away from my food, guns, ammunition, and assorted survival stash. Add to that that I can't take more than $10,000 in cash out of the country and can't take any weapons with me. So, what do you take with you on such a trip? Gold is too heavy. Any ideas on what to bring that won't weigh me down. Thanks, - S.

JWR Replies: Assuming that your main purposes in carrying cash and/or specie would be 1.) to secure passage back to the U.S. in the event of an international crisis, or 2.) to provide for sustenance in NZ while you wait for a crisis in the U.S. to normalize, then depending on your circumstances I'd recommend that you and your wife each carry a money belt containing (up to but not to exceed): Five circulated gold British Sovereigns (or, if you can't find Sovereigns, then get 1 ounce gold Australian Kookaburras) 3000 Euros in cash, $2,000 NZD (cash and/or traveller's checks), and $1,000 USD cash. That would keep the USD value for each of your belts under the $10,000 USD. If you are concerned about customs or immigration officials considering this a "constructive" (additive) violation, then you might carry 1/2 of the amounts mentioned--making the total your whole family will carry under $10,000. (But it is still wise to carry it divided in two separate money belts.) BTW, Euros have been minted in denominations as large as E500, making them quite convenient to carry in a money belt. (But these E500 notes are hard to find. You might have to contact several currency dealers.) Also BTW, Canadian dollars have also been minted in C$500 notes. Those haven't been printed in decades, and you'll have to pay a premium for them.

Once you arrive in New Zealand, leave your money belts in your hotel's vault, or if they refuse to take responsibility for them, then with a local bank in a deposit box. (Regardless, do so with a signed and countersigned inventory. Carry a separate photocopy of that inventory with you.)

Street crime is not a major issue in New Zealand
, aside for a few neighborhoods in Auckland. But if you have concerns, for self protection while there I'd recommend that you immediately buy a couple of stout Maori tokotoko walking sticks. These are quite nicely carved and will make great keepsakes. (See the previous SurvivalBlog posts on walking sticks for self defense.) OBTW, if you pass though Dunedin (on the Otago Peninsula) and you have a big budget then you might consider investing in a custom damascus Bowie knife made by Richard van Dijk. He does fine work, and his knives are sure to appreciate in value. Have a safe trip!

Mr. Rawles,
In response to what you wrote in the Blog on Friday, November 24th:
"The system does has some utility. However, except for people that have an alternative power power system (quite uncommon around Washington, D.C.), in a long term TEOTWAWKI, stations will gradually drop off the air one by one because most folks will not be able to recharge their batteries. (Just another reason why every family should have at least a small photovoltaic (PV) power system.) Contact the folks at Ready Made Resources for details on setting up such a system."

I read something a while back on a board that I frequent and thought it was a very useful use of materials at hand, and things having a second purpose. I'm sure not all sidewalk lights use AA batteries but if I buy any I will make sure mine our just for the utility it provides.

Kev started a thread by writing: "Here is a tip on how to recharge AA batteries after SHTF. First you will need a couple of those solar powered sidewalk lights, the kind that are sold at wal-mart like the one below. If you have not taken one of these sidewalk lights apart, all it is is a solar charger and a couple of AA batteries. Leave these out in full sun, take the batteries out over night so they do not get drained, then put the batteries back in the next day, after a day or two of charging they should be good to go. At the very least a small radio or AA flashlight can be used. These lights can also be placed in the bathrooms at night instead of using kerosene lanterns (if the power is off.)"

This is a link to the whole thread
. It ends with a review I did for a solar charger.

The Lord bless you and yours, I really enjoy your blog, i look forward to reading it every day. - C.K.

I was doing some web searches on EMP and I stumbled into this site that describes how to protect radios and other electronics with do-it-yourself Faraday cages.

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The documentary video "In Hiding" is about the more than one million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Burma. Some of them--mainly Karen, Karenni, and Shan triibesmen--are being systematically hunted down by their own government. It is a "must see" video, available for free download. It was produced by Regardless of your politics, there are some survival lessons that can be learned from this video

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A High-Protein Whole Grain? The Story of American Wild "Rice"


"This nation...has no right to expect that it always will have wise and humane rulers, sincerely attached to the principles of the Constitution...[If] the calamities of war befall us, the dangers to human liberty are frightful to contemplate." - U.S. Supreme Court, Ex Parte Milligan decision, 1866

Monday, November 27, 2006

Given the lead time for "print on demand" at XLibris, the next two days will probably be your last chance to order a few copies of the new edition of my novel "Patriots: Surviving The Coming Collapse" in time to present them as Christmas gifts. The cover price is $22.99. You can order them at 15% discount ($19.54 + postage) by ordering directly from XLibris.

Starting January 10, 2007, I will be selling autographed copies for $18.99 + $3.01 postage. ($22 each, postage paid, or $21 each if you order 2 or more, or $20 each if you order 3 or more.) Because of upcoming travel plans, I cannot fill any orders directly until January. If you need a copy in hand before late January, then please order directly from the publisher: XLibris.

Today we present yet another article for Round 7 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Since there have been so many great entries in this round of the contest, I will also be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win Round 7, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 7 will end on November 30th. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

I am just paranoid enough in this uncertain world to think that I’d be better off with a fallout shelter than not. Oh sure, you can throw together an expedient shelter in a few hours, but I think I’d be farther ahead adding some mass to the ceiling and walls of a basement room. Here’s how I plan to do it and I think the plan will work for anyone with a similar situation.

My basement is of poured concrete with no interior walls. My shelter will be created by converting the most earth shielded quarter of the basement into a shielded room. For ease of construction with a minimum of fit I’m making the shelter 8x12 so that I can use standard 4x8 foots sheets of plywood and 8 foot 2x4s. The walls are easy enough – just begin by sectioning off the designated area with two interior walls. Add shelves to the inside and outside of them so that whatever is on the shelves on both sides of the wall add mass. Jugs of water and canned food on one side and stacked ammo and other gear on the inside would all slow down any errant particles. This wouldn’t be as efficiently as 6 feet of concrete, but as with all things preparedness related – work with what you’ve got and dual use is the key. The exterior walls are shielded by earth and thus should be fine, but I’m leaning toward building shelving or cabinets against at least one exterior wall anyway. That leaves just the ceiling.
By screwing 3⁄4-inch plywood directly onto the bottom of the existing floor joists, I create 10 inches of storage space above the plywood and between the 2x10 joists. I can fill this space with material to add fallout protection. Traditionally this would be done with poured concrete. That sort of added weight will require additional support. That’s where the shelving and interior walls come in. By running 2x4s under the existing first floor joists so that each joist rests on six 2x4s (two feet apart) and the 2x4s are in turn are supported on each end by the top of the interior walls/shelving units that would support quite a bit of weight. Now what should I add to the newly created ceiling storage space?
I ruled out the poured concrete as a waste of space almost immediately. Initially I considered #10 cans of dehydrated food. But that would not be a dense enough material to stop a significant amount of fall out. I considered ammunition, but even though lead is an excellent shielding material I believe that would be prohibitively expensive. It would take a LOT of ammo to fill a 10x12 surface even six inches deep. That brings me to my latest idea prompted by a posting on Survivalblog regarding barter goods. SF in Hawaii wrote that:

“Salt is (1) very cheap now (2) can be sold in small packages at market (3) virtually impossible to obtain in TEOTWAWKI if you are away from the ocean (4) required for life. Add in iodized salt and doubly so. Remember the Goiter belts? (5) Divisible as it is a powder (6) recognizable by taste (7) virtually indestructible.” And “A $100 investment in salt now could easily be worth a fortune in another time and place.”

I have noted the importance of salt for home canning, meat preservation, and hide tanning in a post-electric world, and have one pound boxes of iodized salt taking up space in my basement already. Now factor in that for our water softener I have salt delivered to my door at fifteen cents per pound in 40 lb bags (also already stacked up and taking up space in my basement!). There’s 250 lbs of salt already on hand and taking up storage space that could be freed up. I think the course is clear. My shelter ceiling will be filled with salt. It is cheap, easy to obtain, easily dividable into marketable sizes, needed for life, and when sealed in the plastic bags it is delivered in and stored in what is probably the driest place in my home – ought to store forever.

JWR Adds: Be sure to over-engineer the bracing required when you add weight to a basement ceiling. A "dead load" can become a killing load if you under-engineer it. When designing, think in terms of both the blast wave from nuclear detonations and the effects of earthquake. If you aren't confident that your design is like a proverbial "Brick Schumer House", then talk to a structural engineer before you proceed. Better safe than sorry!


I want to tell you about an opportunity to get your entire family, extended family, or 'group' squared-away with some strategic land in north Idaho. A good friend of mine is selling a 20 acre piece of land which has been legally subdivided into four 5-acre parcels in rural Bonner County, north Idaho. One parcel has an existing developed homestead already in place. The most unique thing about this land is that it is both remote and accessible. Normally remote land such as this is accessible only from a half-hour or more drive on bad/seasonal roads once you leave the highway. From this property you can see for miles over a nearby valley and across the valley to mountains peaks. In the whole view there is not a visible road, house, building, phone pole, nada -- blessed privacy! Only at night can you view the light of a single home far in the distance. Yet you're less than five minutes drive from a major US highway -- very unique!
One five acre parcel, the homestead acreage, includes: a very unique, Joel Skousen-designed, underground NBC shelter; a comfortable 1,800 s.f. three bedroom house (southern exposure) with two bathrooms, master suite with walk-in closet, excellent kitchen with lovely views of the valley, and three independent heat sources. It also includes a 1,440 s.f. metal-sided barn that includes a 800 s.f. heated shop; a cozy 300 s.f. cabin with satellite Internet connection; chicken coop; hog pen; raised bed gardens with excellent soil; 180 degree shooting range/gravel pit; propane generator with 1000 gallon underground storage tank; large storage shed. Well and septic are in. Grid power is available and in use. Elevation is approximately 2,500 feet.
You can keep all 20 acres as a buffer, or sell one or more of the 5 acre pieces to like-minded family or friends.
The three 'back parcels' are accessed from a well-engineered private road which services only this subdivision. Each back parcel has its own nicely-built gravel driveway which connects to this private road. Each back parcel also has a building site cleared w/ lovely, strategic views.
Remainder of each parcel is heavily treed with cedar, birch, white pine, red fir, et cetera. (Gorgeous Fall colors!) There are wild berries, too (Both blackberries and wild huckleberries.) Abundant wildlife includes both whitetail and occasional mule deer. Occasional visitors include: elk, moose, and bear. For some odd reason the owners have never seen a skunk, nor raccoon here -- a blessing.
The homestead parcel and two of the back parcels include significant frontage on a seasonal creek. There are year-round springs in some places.
FYI, there was a new 'comprehensive plan' enacted in Bonner County, which will preclude the future availability of additional 5 acre parcels in this area. Therefore these 5 acre parcels should be greatly desired (valued) in the future.
This is a four-season climate. The Sunset Western Garden book lists this as a Zone 2 area. The growing season is June 1 to September 1.
Similar 5-acre parcels in the county are currently listed in this county from $99,000 to $350,000 each! The seller is interested in finding a single buyer for the entire subdivision -- including the three 5-acre parcels without houses and the 5-acre homestead, together for a price of $650,000 (firm). Time is of the essence. The seller expects to have an offer accepted within a month.

I have known the seller for more than four years, and I can personally attest that he is trustworthy and a devout Christian, and that he did everything thing "right" when he developed this retreat. I have personally seen all of the developments mentioned with the exception of the fallout shelter. I know the property quite well. (I spent several weeks living in the guest cabin.) I can also attest that the wild game is plenty "thick" at Huckleberry Haven. You will certainly never starve there!

For the privacy of the seller, and due to the nature of his preparations, I plan to act as an intermediary until I'm convinced that I'm dealing with a legitimate, qualified, and sincere buyer before I put you in touch with the seller or reveal the exact locale. Please e-mail me if you are genuinely interested in buying this property. Just put "Huckleberrt Haven" in the e-mail title and let me know if you have the desire and means to relocate in the next six months. No tire kickers, please.

Reader D. Taylor mentioned this article from the New England Journal of Medicine on H5N1 Avian Influenza--Continuing Evolution and Spread. It begins: "There is no question that there will be another influenza pandemic someday. We simply don't know when it will occur or whether it will be caused by the H5N1 avian influenza virus. But given the number of cases of H5N1 influenza that have occurred in humans to date (251 as of late September 2006) and the rate of death of more than 50%, it would be prudent to develop robust plans for dealing with such a pandemic"

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In case you missed them, Mish Shedlock's November 19th blog entries on the U.S. housing market are "must reads."

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Rich at KT Ordnance sent us a link to this article with details on the new U.S. $1 coins. Gee, shiny "gold" coins. Why doesn't Uncle Sugar show some intellectual honesty and just mint them out of aluminum, since they don't have any intrinsic value anyway? And why did they move "In God We Trust" to the rim of the coin? Our coinage just hasn't been quite the same since 1964, when silver was phased out.

"Experience should teach us to be on our most guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." - Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

Sunday, November 26, 2006

We got our first significant snowfall yesterday and last night at the Rawles Ranch. Snowballs were flying fast and furious. The Rawles kids are looking forward to sledding, but it may be a few more days before we get an accumulation sufficient for their sleds.

In reading the letters on this subject, the responses seem to center on alternate technology to complete the task. When I first saw the topic, my thoughts were to my OCS class in Camp Upshur in the summer of 1987. One of the challenges was to keep yourself in clean clothes, given a limited number of washing machines (I think it was maybe 8 machines for a platoon of 55 to 60). I was waiting to do laundry and noticed a long sink with trays by it. We had scrub brushes and laundry detergent, so I took the opportunity to wash my clothes "on a rock in a stream" as I described it a the time. They were dried on a line, ready to wear in little time at all. Technology is not the answer to all problems - sometimes it's prudent to look at all of the alternatives. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, - Mark in Florida

Hi Jim,
I just wanted to pass along this web site. I found it while surfing the net and thought you might be interested in the area 20 years after. As a side note I've read that some of this story/web site may not be totally factual. Such as she didn't ride through there alone, but with a tour group, etc. I don't have any more info, but even if she was with a tour, the readings look actual and so do the photos. Still interesting none the less. Take care, - Tom

JWR Replies: Many thanks. This is of particular interest to me, since I am a Chernobyl "down-winder." I was on active duty in Stuttgart, West Germany working a Guardrail (IGR-V)/Quicklook mission with the 2nd AEB in the Spring of 1986 when Chernobyl melted down. Both the West German media and the AFRTS intentionally downplayed the fallout risk, to avoid a public panic. I knew enough to avoid dairy products at the time, but I didn't have access to any potassium iodate. So if I die at an early age of thyroid cancer, you'll know why.

Hi Jim,
Don't know if this has been covered before, but I think that a 5.11 tactical vest could serve as a "bug out bag" in a vehicle. Easy to slip on, no worries about taking it on and off as you get in/out of a vehicle. Everything you need right within reach. It may not carry as much as a knapsack, but it sure could provide enough gear to get you through a day or so. Best, - R.S.

Dear Jim,
I saw the article posted on SurvivalBlog about cannibalizing ammo [by Mr. Yankee). Unfortunately, that's a really bad idea where powder and primers are concerned. Projectiles are fine, if they don't get warped out of round or weakened by oxidation. First of all, you don't know what powder is in the case. You can guess, but overpressure runs the risk of exploding the casing and possibly damaging the rifle (and yourself!). Second, "light" loads are more likely to explode a casing, not less. If the powder burns too fast it can spike the pressure without moving the bullet and kaboom. Busted rifle at the worst possible time. There are rounds which can be safely used with black powder, if need be. A good example is the .30-30, the .38-55, the .45-70. They don't have much range, but they do work with old fashioned black powder and hard cast lead bullets, which are fairly easy to make if you have a bit of tin available and the proper bullet molds. Modern black powder rifles are pretty specialized and most hunters prefer to use 777 or Pyrodex since they clean up easier and are less corrosive to the barrel and less likely to explode than true black powder.

The real issues will be shortage of primers and smokeless gunpowder. This is a problem which should be resolved. Primers are sensitive to shock and handling. Decapping a primer usually sets it off so they're a component you can't reasonably re-use. What should happen, from a survivalist standpoint, is learn to swage bullets from lead wire and copper tubing, make primers from scratch, and draw brass cases, and someone trustworthy in each local area should have the ability to make gunpowder (at least four types: pistol, BLC-2 small rifle, H380 med rifle, Retumbo large rifle) so small arms will have supplies. Such a thing should be above government control, be easy to duplicate and simple enough to do in the kitchen or garage. I doubt its that easy, however. If it were, we'd already have hobbyists posting about it.

Ironically, the military has already asked for the design of a caseless autorifle, out of the box thinking. Prior efforts in the past were problematic since the brass extracts the heat from the chamber as well, extending the number of times the weapon can be fired before it needs to cool off. Electric ignition removes the need for a percussion cap. Without brass, ammo weighs less and costs less to make. Its all pretty interesting stuff. A scaled down .223 equivalent version or .25 cal version would be very nice for a PDW (Personal Defense Weapon = Spray and Pray SMG). Defense has articles about this subject if you want to read.

A caseless light machinegun is not really survivalist stuff at this point, but our government can do some surprising technological things, like the Internet. Humvees will run on biodiesel, as will most diesels made since 1994, per government mandate. Basic telephone service includes backup generators which keeps them running for more than a day with no outside power supply. The Viper attack helicopter is meant to be kept in a person's garage and can be rearmed and refueled in 30 minutes by one person with minimal training. All military weapons and equipment has basic instructions printed on the side. The M-16 is made to be fired accurately by an adolescent. Stretches of the Interstate highway system are reinforced as jet bomber runways. The Oakridge Breeder Reactor is sitting on top of the largest uranium ore source on earth, the Chattanooga Shale. When the oil is gone, the USA will have most of the nuclear fuel left, turning us into our own little OPEC and able to give the finger back to the Arabs. Strength in depth is already there, despite the efforts of Big Government to hide that from you. We wanted to scare our enemies into submission by being so strong they won't try to invade.

If it makes anyone feel better, I sincerely doubt that the Peak Oil Famine will last more than 20 years from start to finish. By that point those who were going to die will have, those parts of civilization which are practical and cheap will still be around and probably refined not to break easily. People will change to the new situation and continue living in pursuit of happiness, which doesn't mean finding it, just pursuing it. Civilization will climb back up again and technology will continue its onward march of progress. Its just going to do this with some major societal changes, including a serious surge in farming, safely engineered crops, solar power, and trains (because they're a cheap way to move stuff). I also think we'll see major impedance to free movement through lack of fuel, the return of highwaymen/bandits, and the slow death of solitary country residences. Human beings are going to have to get used to living on a fraction of the energy they use now. Imagine having only 15% as much electrical power to play with, and that's when the sun is up, and batteries at night, always in threat of wearing out due to many deep cycles and the international lead shortage.

The biggest problem of our (post cheap energy) future is water supply. That's going to resolve itself, unfortunately. Either people who want water find a way to pump it without using petrochemicals or they move somewhere it can be had by gravity feed or rain. Water = Food = People. Lose the water, you lose the food and the population. Most of the great plains states have suffered this already. The Midwest is going to have most of the nation's food. It also has most of its disasters (tornados, floods, blizzards, ice storms, drought, and earthquakes every 200 years). It won't be easy living there, but most of our core midwestern population will survive. Best, - InyoKern

The U.S. Dollar's long term slide versus the Euro resumes, in earnest. I'm still predicting that it will soon take $2 to buy a Euro. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Invest in tangibles to protect yourself from the Dollar's inevitable demise! If you haven't already done so, give the folks at Swiss America a call. SurvivalBlog reader Mike The Blacksmith comments on the slide in the dollar versus foreign currencies: "The question is how long, how fast?"

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Michael Z. Williamson dropped me a line to point me to a detailed article at about Model 1893 Mausers, and what constitutes "safe" ammo for them. Their conclusion: They can handle the pressure of 7.62mm NATO 150 grain military loads, but not typical .308 Winchester commercial soft nose loads. One of our advertisers, The Pre-1899 Specialist, sells hand-picked Model 1893s that have had their headspace checked. These were made in Oberndorf, Germany under contract for the Turkish government from 1894 to 1897. They are ideal Federally exempt (no FFL required) candidates for rebarreling to 7.62mm NATO. (These rifles have an action that is stronger than the Spanish Model 1893.)

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Rourke (moderator of the Jericho Discussion Group) mentioned this one: Jericho TV Series Ranked #3

"The groups conserving civilized values and preparing for the renaissance will have to enjoy notable freedom from the immediate anxieties which would otherwise exhaust their energies; and this could happen only by means of an initial endowment made soon enough (that is, before the dark age begins) by the planners of the survival groups. This initial endowment could not be in money, since money would obviously be among the first casualties when the systems break down. Instead, it would have to be an endowment of concrete things; tools, implements, motor-generator sets, non-perishable good which a monastic community would make more of; goods exchangeable for food,, particularly salt, sugar, and alcohol; drills, electric cells, copper wire, stainless steel screws and small arms ammunition." - Roberto Vacca, The Coming Dark Age

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The high bid is now at $245 in the latest SurvivalBlog benefit auction, This one is for a big batch of 16 survival/preparedness reference books with a combined value of more than $250, courtesy of the fine folks at Ready Made Resources. Please submit your bid via e-mail. The auction ends on January 15th.

I have expanded and updated the SurvivalBlog Glossary. Because I get lots of inquiries about the Rawles Ranch, I have added entries to the glossary, such as the un-named western state (TUWS), the un-named river (TUR), and the un-named range of mountains (TUROM).

Today we present yet another article for Round 7 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Since there have been so many great entries in this round of the contest, I will also be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win Round 7, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 7 will end on November 30th. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

We all recognize that there will be a scarcity of resources in a post-TEOTWAWKI world. One of the things that almost everyone preparing for such a contingency stockpiles is ammunition. Stored ammunition is a viable, but short term solution. Sooner or later factory ammunition will become scarce. Whether that is in days, months, years, or decades, reloading becomes the next most viable option. Powder, primers, and projectiles can bring new life to previously fired cases. I recommend that everyone store powder, primer, and projectiles, but sooner or later these too will get scarce.

There are things that we can do now to make our reloading capacity last well beyond that of the average reloader. We all recognize the value of arming ourselves with firearms chambered with commonly found cartridges. In the United States you are far more likely to find .30-30, .308 and .30-06 than you are to find wildcat ammo or nearly obsolete ammo such as 6.5mm Carcano, 6.5mm Japanese, 8mm Lebel. These later three are all military chamberings, but they are not found in quantity. When your supply of stored ammunition becomes depleted you are far more likely to find both factory loaded cartridges and reloading supplies for more common cartridges. At least you are until everyone with those commonly chambered firearms starts scrounging for ammo. What then? If you have the capacity to mould your own projectiles that is an excellent start, but what else can you do?

Another option is to cannibalize components from other ammunition. This will provide jacketed bullets, as well as otherwise wasted powder and primers. I will not attempt to list safe loads that can be created with cannibalized components. The potential combinations for even a single cartridge like 308 are nearly infinite. But suffice to say that if you are willing to do a little research now you can develop safe loads from a variety of sources. For instance, if you are shooting a rifle chambered in 308 and need to build ammo for it. You can steal powder, primer, and projectiles from 30-06 cartridges. The reverse is also true. Components from 308 Winchester can feed a 30-06 because both cartridges utilize projectiles that are .308 inches (7.62mm) in diameter. Similarly if you own a rifle chambered for ammunition with a .311 projectile like 7.62x39 (AKs and SKS), 303 British (Enfields), or 7.62x54R (Mosin Nagants) you can load projectiles pulled from any of the cartridges in that list.

This is where the blinding flash of the obvious comes in. If you own a rifle with a bore size slightly LARGER than the most common projectiles. You can utilize not only all of the proper projectiles, but ALSO all of the slightly SMALLER projectiles safely.

NEVER try to do the reverse. DO NOT load larger projectiles in smaller bores as this will create dangerous pressures.
But you can safely build cartridges that go bang and kill down range without causing danger to the shooter by using slightly undersized projectiles.

For example rifles chambered for .303 British, 7.62x54R and 7.62x39mm cartridges all have .311 bores. They can not only use all the projectiles made in .311 but also all those that are truly .308 The accuracy will suffer because the smaller projectiles do not grip the lands and grooves of the barrel as tightly, but ammo which can be cannibalized includes .308 Winchester, 7.62x51 NATO, .30-06, .30-378, etc.

If a multi-generational recovery period follows TEOTWAWKI, there will be a period when those armed with the slightly larger bores will find reloading components much more readily than those with smaller diameter bores. This could be a decisive advantage.

As often expressed here – knowledge is the key to quality of life beyond bare survival. With a little research now you can develop loads that give you an edge in the future when you may need it most.

JWR Adds: Use caution and common sense when cannibalizing loaded ammunition for reloading components. As with any other reloading operation, always wear safety goggles. Never use an inertial bullet puller to pull bullets from any cartridges with explosive bullets! (Velex bullets, Spotter or "Spotting" rounds, Pomeroy bullets, Raufoss loads, et cetera. Even some incendiary bullets are shock sensitive.) Any salvaged powder should be properly labelled and packaged in sealed metal cans. (Never glass jars!) Also, salvaged powder from one lot ammunition should never be mixed with powder from other lots of ammunition. It should all treated as if it has a faster burning rate--and loaded as such. (Very light loads, and work them up gradually, watching for signs of excess pressure such as difficult chamber extraction, deformed/separated cases, or deformed/"backed out" primers.) Use extreme caution when attempting to de-cap live primers. This should only be done in an absolute emergency, and then it should only attempted with primers that are not crimped in primer pockets, and of course only with substantial safety precautions!

Hail and well met. – I purchased two of the handheld MURS transceivers from MURS Radios. (A SurvivalBlog advertiser.) First off, they arrived really fast. The shipping only took a few days. They were also packaged very securely. Although you can tell that these radios were used, they do not look abused in any way. I was impressed right off the bat by them. For one thing, they do not feel like a toy in your hand…they have some heft to them. They also came fully charged. In the box along with the radios were the chargers and good directions. I tested the directions by changing one of the frequencies to the weather station and back with no problem at all. As far as range goes, all I can say is that they leave my GMRS radios in the dust, and FRS radios do not even come close. With the stubby antenna that came with the unit, I got almost two miles range in town. And this was with good solid “5 by 5” signals, with no “miffing and muffing.” I have a feeling that with the helical antenna, the range would have been at least another half mile. Considering the wide range of accessories available for these units (including AA battery packs) they are going to be my new group standard. In closing let me just say that as an Extra Class ham, I have used Kenwood products before, and they have never let me down. The TK-2100s (or TIK-21s as I refer to them) are no exception. These babies are great radios. And with the “MURS Alert” system, they are fantastic! - Gung Ho

In response to Tim from Saskatchewan, who asked about the video of the tanker truck BLEVE explosion in Germany that I had mentioned on SurvivalBlog more than a year ago, here it is.

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USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Bruce Knight promised Wednesday to keep the national animal identification system (NAIS) a permanently voluntary system. My comment: Yeah, right. Just like they promised the Indians about "permanent" reservation lands: "As long as grass grows and the water flows."

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Redmist flagged this piece: The British Nanny State expands further.

Josey Wales: "When I get to likin' someone, they ain't around long."
Lone Watie: "I notice when you get to dislikin' someone they ain't around for long, neither." - The Outlaw Josey Wales

Friday, November 24, 2006

The high bid is now at $200 in the latest SurvivalBlog benefit auction, This one is for a big batch of 16 survival/preparedness reference books with a combined value of more than $250, courtesy of the fine folks at Ready Made Resources. Please submit your bid via e-mail. The auction ends on January 15th.

Dear Jim:
Here are the main links that I have on my groups for nuclear fallout. These are good links I have compiled over time:

Nuclear Blast Effects
FAS Page (International)
FAS Page (USA)
A PBS Web Page

Narrative review of effects
Nukefix web page

Nuclear Fallout Maps for North America (FEMA based) at KI4U and at Richard Fleetwood's SurvivalRing

List of North American Targets (Also at SurvivalRing)

Jet Stream Today (for high altitude fallout direction)

Regards, - Rourke (Moderator of the Jericho Discussion Group.)

I am somewhat new to your web site. The information I have been able to get from it is wonderful and greatly appreciated. Have you seen the article from World Net Daily [about the DC Emergency Radio Network]? I have not heard of this type of system before. Respectfully, - B.W.

JWR Replies: Yes, I saw the article. The DCERN uses the low power FRS band and thus these radios have very short range. I think that the higher power MURS or CB bands would have been a better choice. The system does has some utility. However, except for people that have an alternative power power system (quite uncommon around Washington, D.C.), in a long term TEOTWAWKI, stations will gradually drop off the air one by one because most folks will not be able to recharge their batteries. (Just another reason why every family should have at least a small photovoltaic (PV) power system.) Contact the folks at Ready Made Resources for details on setting up such a system.

Mr Rawles:
Which receiver(s) and which transceiver(s) do you recommend I buy for my first few pieces of disaster communications equipment, and should I buy in any particular sequence? I'm new to reading your blog. How can I find articles that have already been on SurvivalBlog about communications gear? Thanks, - L.Z.

JWR Replies: Your first receiver should probably be a compact portable general coverage AM/FM/Weather Band/CB/Shortwave receiver. There are several brands on the market, most notably Grundig, Sangean, and Sony. I consider the Sony ICF-SW-7600GR receiver among the most durable portable general coverage receivers for the money. It is about the size of a paperback book. I've had one (actually mine is an earlier "pre-G suffix" model) since 1992 and even with very regular use it still works great. In my experience, the secrets to making them last are to buy a couple of spare hand-reel antennas (the most fragile part), show care in putting stress on the headphone jack and power cable connections, and to always carry the radio and accessories in a sturdy well-padded case. (Preferably a waterproof case. I found that a small Pelican brand case with "pluck and chuck" gray foam inserts proved ideal for my needs.) One low cost alternative is to cut closed-cell foam inserts to fit inside a .30 caliber USGI ammo can. (SurvivalBlog reader MurrDoc calls GI ammo cans "The poor man's Pelican." These steel cans are very sturdy, inexpensive (under $10 each, at gun shows), and they also provide limited protection from nuclear EMP effects. (They would be a near-perfect Faraday cage only if you removed the rubber gasket and replaced it with EMI gasket wire mesh, but then of course the can would no longer be waterproof. (Sorry, TANSTAAFL.)

Your first transceivers should probably be a pair of MURS walkie-talkies, such as those sold by MURS Radios.

Next on your list should be a SSB-capable CB radio, such as the time-proven Cobra 148GTL. (BTW, this model is also readily adaptable for "freeband" frequency range modification.)

Next should be a pair of military surplus field telephones, for coordinating retreat security.

Then, perhaps get an EMP-proof vacuum tube technology table radio, preferably one with shortwave bands. Something like a Zenith Trans-Oceanic H500 would be a good choice. Table top vacuum tube radios can often be found on eBay.

In answer to your question about older posts: The most recent ten months of SurvivalBlog posts have been cross-indexed. Using the right hand bar (down below the scrolling ads) you can either sort by Categories (for example clicking on: "Communications and Receivers"). You can also use the Search window and type in a keyword such as "shortwave", "CB", "field telephone" or "scanner."
BTW, I hope that you benefit from the information posted and archived in SurvivalBlog and that you will consider joining the less than 1% of readers that have become 10 Cent Challenge voluntary subscribers.

By way of The Energy Bulletin, here's an interesting article from Australia: Head for the hills - the new survivalists

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I heard that JRH Enterprises (one of our most loyal advertisers) is is having a "Black Friday" (Day After Thanksgiving) sale on many preparedness items including night vision gear, gas masks, medical kits, tactical gear, and more. In true "Black Friday" fashion, these specials are available only on Friday, November the 24th.

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Israel is reportedly developing a "bionic hornet" micro drone.

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Commenting on the recent thread about barter items, frequent blog content contributor SF in Hawaii noted: "I recall a story about a 1/3rd of a roll of toilet paper trading for dinner at a restaurant in the Balkans [shortly] after the [Second World] War."

"To govern according to the sense and agreement of the interests of the people is a great and glorious object of governance. This object cannot be obtained but through the medium of popular election, and popular election is a mighty evil." - Edmund Burke

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving Day! In the United States, today is set aside to give thanks to God for His blessings. Here at the Rawles Ranch we do, indeed, most earnestly. God is provident. Praises to Jehovah Jireh!

The high bid is already at $45 in the latest SurvivalBlog benefit auction, This one is for a big batch of survival/preparedness reference books, courtesy of the fine folks at Ready Made Resources. (They are one of our first and most loyal advertisers. Be sure to visit their site and give them some business. BTW, they have additional copies of each of the titles listed below, as well as more than a hundred other titles.)

Please submit your bid via e-mail. The auction ends on January 15th. The books in the auction lot include:

1. From Seed to Bloom- How to Grow Over 500 Annuals, Perennials & Herbs by Eileen Powell
2. Keeping the Harvest- Preserving Your Fruits, Vegetables & Herbs by Nancy Chioffi & Gretchen Mead
3. How to Build Your Own Log Home For Less Than $15,000 by Robert L. Williams
4. Camouflage by Desert Publications
5. Natural Pest Control- Alternatives to Chemicals for the Home and Garden by Andrew Lopez The Invisible Gardener
6. The AR-15/M16- A Practical Guide by Duncan Long
7. Apocalypse Tomorrow by Duncan Long
8. Guide To Emergency Survival Communications- How to Build and Power Your System by Dave Ingram
9. Raising Rabbits The Modern Way by Bob Bennett
10. Mountainman Crafts and Skills- An Illustrated Guide to Clothing, Shelter, Equipment and Wilderness Living by David Montgomery.
11. A Guide to Raising Pigs- Care, Facilities, Management, Breed Selection by Kelly Klober
12. Survival, Evasion and Escape by Desert Publications
13. Raising Your Own Turkeys by Leonard S. Mercia

and, three more books that I'm adding, just to "sweeten the pot":

14. "Patriots: Surviving The Coming Collapse" (the scarce out of print Huntington House edition)
15. The Encyclopedia of Country Living by the late Carla Emery
16. One more surprise book title!

Together, these books have a retail value well in excess of $250. Get your bid in soon!


Mr. Rawles,
Last night I finished reading your novel "Patriots." My Son bought the book last month and loaned it to me to read. I just wanted to say, what a fantastic book and story. The last chapter said it all! Best Regards, - M.E.D. in Ohio

Mr R.:
Saw the post this morning about the large washing machine at Lehman's Non-Electric. Great catalogue, and obviously a washer for TEOTWAWKI. Let me give a heads-up to a much smaller, portable washer - the Wonder Clean Pressure Washing Machine. The parent company (Wonder Wash Corporation - Mesa, Arizona) developed this nifty little washer. Add in the load ( weighed ), soap, water, close the top, and turn the handle to revolve the washer barrel for a specified time. By their charts 5 pounds ( max load) would be about 10 shirts or two pairs of jeans
It's not as robust or sturdy as the metal James Washer - it is plastic - but it works pretty well, it's portable, and for the price of the James Washer you could have ten of these.
We have a couple and the Solar Showers ready to go, along with plenty of contractor bags, which can be used in a pinch for washing, amid their myriad uses.
The Wonder Clean is found online at several sites. A quick web search turned up Emergency Essentials and The Laundry Alternative, Inc. Season's Regards, - MurrDoc

JWR Replies: The Wonder Clean is also available from two of my favorite vendors: Lehman's and Major Surplus. (I've done business with both for many years.)

Just when we thought that things couldn't get any worse in Zimbabwe, we opened Cathy Buckle's latest letter. The inflation rate is now at 1,070 percent per annum. Life expectancies are plummeting. Starvation deaths are increasing. Government mismanagement, nepotism, and corruption are rampant. Cathy's October and November letters are "must reads." Please pray for the people of Zimbabwe.

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Joe Farah, Editor of WorldNetDaily opines: 'Jericho' and 'Heroes' TV Series Spark Concern with Civil Defense.

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Our friend Kit, author/editor of the delightful Forever Vain blog suggested the following: "I'm not sure if you've mentioned this site on Survivalblog before, but FEMA's Emergency Management Institute offers lots of courses free of charge to the general public with respect to emergency preparedness and disaster planning. Check it out:"

"Great cities, the emblems of Western Civilization, began as a walled defenses against marauding enemies. In a world turned upside-down, they are now our great vulnerability. They are suicidal concentrations of expensive economic, cultural and political assets waiting, exposed, for destruction. The only way to ignore nuclear terrorism will be to “redeploy” preemptively out of the crosshairs. Within years our cities will die – abandoned or incinerated." - "Flamethrower", at the FreeRepubliic Forums

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

For anyone using 12 VDC in their vehicle or home, you should strongly consider using Anderson Power Poles. Compared to the standard cigarette lighter plug, these are far more reliable and safer. (Cigarette lighter plugs have no uniform rating, and can melt if used for high [current] load applications.)
These connectors come in ratings from 30 Amps (A) to 350 Amps. The 30A size is the de-facto standard for Ham radio operators now, and the larger sizes are what you see used for things like large battery racks in computer rooms and tow truck jumper cables.
They are easy to install, using a soldering iron or special crimp tool, and they last. Additionally, there is no male or female, as the blades are flat and wipe against each other, unlike a regular spade or butt connector.
I have changed out the cords on all of my 12V chargers, inverters, and other devices. You can make an adapter cable with a cigarette lighter on one end in case you do need to plug something in to a car socket.
To make a 12V wall-mount outlet, you can buy a chassis-mount power pole holder, then cut a hole in a regular house wall plate and pop it in. When installed, it looks neat and tidy.
Chassis mount:
Here are some tutorials on using them:
Remember to to either fuse your 12 volt circuits or install a breaker panel. A quick way to set up a 12V fuse box is with the Rig Runner. (Westmountainradio - Rig Runner.)
If you install a 12V breaker panel, be sure to check if the breakers are rated for DC. Some breakers do not trip properly if used for DC. You can order DC-rated breakers from most alternative-energy stores if you can't find out for sure. Good luck! - JN

The subject of handheld lights is as long as it is wide. Ask 20 people what is best, get 40 answers and recommendations! As with many things, today we live in a great time for flashlight technology. My recommendation is to immerse yourself in Some guys there are truly on the cutting edge of lights.
Some of the modified lights are incredible. Have fun and enjoy a winter's worth of reading. - Straightblast


Just enjoying a last respite prior to retiring in my mountaintop isolated home and read the letter on Prowlers and Lighting at SurvivalBlog. Since this is still pre-TEOTWAWKI, I use car headlights [with my retreat DC power system.] I got them for free from a couple of salvage yards. Not just the lights, but the entire fixture. They mount rather nicely to trees and such and can be aimed. ( I might mention that if done right, they don't draw attention or look tacky). I use military WD-1 [Army field tele]phone wire and the lights seem to function ok even at the distance I've strung the wire (surprised me?) I can turn them on selectively or all at once (panic switch). I set them so they backlighted the intruders (The intruders were between me and the lights). Only had to use it once and it turned out to be a neighbor (Boy, was he surprised!) He'd been over a lot and never noticed the lights before. He said it sort of took his breath away when the woods behind him lit up like a football field.
For four legged varmints, I use a surefire whit light and a red laser on the rifle.
For two legged varmints, I use an infrared laser, night vision goggles and a really good flash suppressor.
BTW, the latter works great on coyotes, which should tell you something.
Oh, it was the seismic intrusion detector set that told me somebody or something big was in the woods.

On another note: When you're doing everything all by yourself, you're bound to forget something. You might want to remind everybody who is using batteries and inverters that it's Fall headed into Winter. I checked the water in my batteries and was feeling good about everything being fully charged and ready for winter and then, just happened to wiggle all the battery connection wires. Whew! Only a minor spark on one connection (batteries were on charge) and lo and behold! A loose connection. I was just lucky to have seen it. I took the volt meter and checked each and every battery and sure enough, two were lower than the others. Cleaned the connections, and the batteries started bubbling as they took a charge. The batteries are all series and paralleled in my 24 Volt system using L-16, 6 volt [deep cycle marine] batteries. If I hadn't caught that, two of my sixteen L-16 batteries probably would have frozen and burst this winter.
Best regards to you and yours. Check Six! - The Army Aviator


I bought one of the Thor-X lights at Costco last year for about $25. There great and have a high and low setting. High is 10,000.000 [candle power]. It also can be run off a 12 volt car hookup or charged and used off the battery. Great light and rugged. I found the light on this page so you could see a picture. I have seen them at Costco since I got mine but I don't know if they still carry them
As you say there are times for light and many times the night is my best friend, use it to your advantage. - D.M.


Hi Jim,
I was reading the inquiry L.K. made regarding spotlights and I thought of the Maxa Beam. Perhaps you're already familiar with it, but if not it is very powerful and versatile, and can be used covertly with NVD. I haven't priced them yet, but they do look pricey (no prices listed on their web site). A short video showing the capabilities is can be found here -
I thought you might be interested in knowing about this product if you weren't already aware of it. Take care, - Tom

JWR Adds: Beware when using handheld spotlights. They draw a lot of current and can drain a car battery in a hurry. Be sure to leave your engine running if using a spotlight for more than a minute.

At the library today, the kids were immersed in Brian Jacques books. The Memsahib was checking out books on fly fishing and travel. Meanwhile, I picked up the book: "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed" by Jared Diamond. The Memsahib commented with a bit of sarcasm: "Oh, so I see that you found some of your usual light and cheery bedside reading."

   o o o

Venezuelan president Chavez distributes free energy efficient light bulbs and promises a "energy revolution" including distributed small power generation for emergencies.

   o o o

U.S. police department radio "10 Codes" being phased out.

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T.W. sent this one: Global Hawk UAV to Fly First Mission Over U.S.

"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world." - Thomas Jefferson to A. L. C. Destutt de Tracy, 1820. FE 10:175

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dear Mr Rawles,
As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, churches and charities are conducting food drives. Besides being a chance for us to act in a charitable manner to the less fortunate, it is also a terrific opportunity to cycle out some of our food stockpiles. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been donating excess wet-pack canned good (with 2007 expiration dates), and replacing them with new, 2008/2009 expiring items. From my way of looking at things, it is a win-win for the recipients and us -- the donors; the hungry are fed, and the shelf life of our food reserves are extended. Best Regards, - Jim K.

JWR Replies: I have always placed a strong emphasis on Christian charity. Rotating your food storage is a great opportunity to dispense charity. If the food goes to a charity organization rather than an individual family, be sure to thoroughly vet the organization. Many charities have huge staffs and overhead costs, resulting an less than half of cash ending up in the hands of the needy. Such organizations should be shunned. Also, some food bank organizations are distrustful of donated long term storage canned foods and have been known to discard or destroy them, even if they have clearly marked expiry dates. Ask a few key questions before making a donation! If in doubt, then donate it elsewhere.

Mr. Rawles:
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one that thinks having skills in different areas is a great barter tool. I worked for years as a mechanic, in my thirties I changed careers and went into construction as a General Contractor. After about 10 years in construction. I semi-retired and when to school to become a professional farrier. I spent seven years shoeing horses and working metal in a forge. That lead me into custom knife making. My wife & I have been selling handmade and factory knives for the last several years. I have always kept a stock of materials to make knives for along time. We keep a fair number of handmade and factory knives for exactly the reasons of barter. In fact we barter a lot or as we call it trade all the time.
I really enjoy your blog. It has become my daily reading. There is some very good ideas from your readers also. - C. J.


Having just recently found your [SurvivalBlog] web site, I'd like to let you know how much I've enjoyed it so far.
Regarding barter items : there are a few things I've not really seen anyone mention (at least in the articles I've gone through so far)
1. This may sound silly but - toilet paper. Much like ammo it is fairly easily divisible into small amounts, and lets face it, it's one of those things that no one really thinks about until they need it. Also it has the advantage of being relatively cheap and long lasting if stored in a dry place. It does have the disadvantage of being bulky but if you have the room to store a large quantity it makes an excellent trade item that can't be used against you at a later time.
2. Nails and screws. Once again, relatively cheap and easy to store. Easily divisible into small quantities and one of those things that you may not think about until you really need it.
3. Feminine hygiene products (pads and tampons) : Until I got married recently I certainly wouldn't have thought of it but now its definitely on my list. Also pads have the added advantage of making excellent bandages for wound dressings.
To my way of thinking its the little things like this, the things that make life a little more bearable WTSHTF that may have as much, if not more, value as gold or ammo. - M.B.

Mr Rawles,
Here are a couple of free training links. Train for free. All you need is a pool, running shoes and a pull-up bar. If you live too far from a pool, the substitute cycling for double the swim times.
Regards, - Felix

Roger sent an article as a reminder to all readers of SurvivalBlog that being prepared is not just for TEOTWAWKI: Vancouverites boil water for 5th day as rain continues

   o o o

It looks like the spot prices of silver and gold have recovered solidly from their slump, just as I predicted. I still expect higher prices by the end of this year, and sharply higher prices in another year

   o o o

Wanted: Man to land on killer asteroid and gently nudge it from path to Earth

   o o o

U.S. housing construction plunges in October. "Housing construction plunged to the lowest level in more than six years in October as the nation's once-booming housing market slowed further." I told you so...

"In a time of drastic change it is the learners who survive; the 'learned' find themselves fully equipped to live in a world that no longer exists." - Eric Hoffer

Monday, November 20, 2006

We had three nice days of weather in succession here at the Rawles Ranch, giving us a chance to get into town in comfort. The nearest large grocery store is more than 50 miles away. We saw several large flocks of wild turkeys while en route. Even though I try my best to show restraint, I usually end up with two or three times the canned goods that I had planned to buy. (I can't resist sale prices on staple items, and the "squirrel" in me always wants "a little bit more" to keep on hand for winter.) Invariably the clerks at the cash registers roll their eyes or make comments. This time, when the clerk saw my two nearly full shopping carts, she asked: "Did you leave anything on the shelf?" Maybe its a good thing that I do this sort of shopping more than 50 miles away from home.

What do you and your readers suggest for someone living in a rural area who needs a good strong light for prowlers? I live on top of a mountain in a cove surrounded by three sides by hills.

On occasion, we have trespassers at night riding the ATV trails along the hills who are out to steal tools, gas, etc. There have been more than a few occasions when I've walked out to my car late at night to get something and realized there were people in the trees.

One night I turned my rather anemic Surefire 6P [flashlight] in their direction, and spotted the bottoms of boots or tennis shoes heading up the hillside.

What Id like to have is advice on a good hand-held spotlight that I can use to pick out people in the trees up on the side of the hill late at night. Is this a viable option for an armed person, or should I just try and get a 120 lumens lamp for one of my Surefires?

Do rural folks maintain any light equipped firearms for nighttime problems with prowlers, or even predators after their livestock? Thanks, - L.K.

JWR Replies: To properly answer your questions, I need to do so to address two disparate circumstances, pre-TEOTWAWKI and post-TEOTWAWKI, which in many ways necessitate mutually exclusive security preparations. I once had a consulting client tell me that he was planning to purchase a big 10 KW propane generator for his isolated retreat, so that he could power numerous vapor lamps around his house, if and when the Schumer hits the fan. It took a while to convince him that he needed to think about some alternatives, to match both his locale and the severity/circumstances of potential Schumeresque situations. Let me explain:

Pre-TEOTWAWKI: Under present circumstances, security lighting is a benefit. You will have law enforcement available to call. Prowlers aren't likely to shoot at you. For pre-TEOTWAWKI, it is best to think in terms of active defenses, such as vapor lights, 1,000,000 candlepower 12 VDC handheld spotlights (such as those sold by US Cavalry Store and, full spectrum trip flares, noisy dogs, peafowl, and noisy electronic alarm systems.

Post-TEOTWAWKI: At some future date, security lighting could be a potential hazard. If and when the power grid goes down, the few families that have alternative energy will be very noticeable, especially as time goes on and stored fuel for generators begins to run out. After that juncture, the few folks with alternative energy (wind, solar, microhydro, etc.) will be very noticeable unless they are careful. The consensus among looters may very well be: :"If the have the money to make their own electricity, then they have things worth stealing." You do not want to present a "come loot me" beacon at night! In fact, it will be best to make blackout covers for all of your windows that can be installed from inside the house. These can be fabricated from scrap cardboard. Check carefully for light leaks.

Some other differences, post-TEOTWAWKI: You will have no law enforcement available to call. Prowlers will be likely to shoot at you. For post-TEOTWAWKI, it is best to think in terms of passive defenses, such as starlight scopes, infrared chemical light stick trip flares, quiet (but alert) dogs, tanglefoot wire, concertina wire, and silent alarm systems. (See the Profile for Mr. Tango for some ideas on infrared floodlights that can be used in conjunction with night vision equipment.)

Regarding your question about mounted lights: With the exception of infrared illuminators, I generally discourage mounting lights on guns intended for use post-TEOTWAWKI. If left turned on for more than just an instant before shooting, a visible light mounted on a gun can turn you into a natural target. If you feel the need for illuminating targets for post-TEOTWAWKI security, then I'd recommend that you be the armed man hidden in the shadows that remotely turns on a floodlight.(As opposed to being the man holding the light--or holding the gun with an attached light--who in effect announces: "Here I am!"

I for one I’m very happy that your novel "Patriots" back in print. For a long time I gave this book away to friends who I thought might like it, and to some whom I wanted to “feel out” as to whether they thought preparedness was a good idea. I had to stop this of course when your book went out of print, and the cost went skyward. Now I can stock up again.

Also I wanted to thank you for turning me on to MURS Radios. I just made an order with Rob, and will be making another order soon. I also gave Kenwood Radio a call and spoke with their technical department regarding the AA Alkaline Battery Pack for the TK-2100. I wanted to know if my NiMH batteries would work, considering they only put out 1.2 volts each, as compared to the 1.5 of the alkalines. The short answer was yes. - Though range may be decreased a little. The specs say the radios will work just fine with + or – 20 percent of the rated voltage. And since with 6 AAs the [nominal] voltage is 9 volts. That means that 6 AA NiMHs at 1.2 volts each would [collectively] put out 7.2 volts. And this is within spec.

I thought I would also add my two cents about the Dakota Alert system. Though I have not yet received my unit, I would like to address passive infrared (PIR) detectors in general. At one time I was the station supervisor for a UL alarm company, and one of my jobs was to try and limit false and no alarms. The short and sweet of it is that PIR detectors work by “seeing” a change in temperature.
And for them to work best, their sensing beam (it’s not really a beam, but just where it “looks) must terminate on an object within its advertised working distance. That means if it is supposed to cover 80 feet, it should be looking at something within that distance…not just air. When these units have no solid reference, this is when the trouble starts. They may not go into alarm, or they may false alarm, literally at the drop of a hat…or the blowing of a breeze. So when it comes to the Dakota Alert, or PIRs in general, make sure the “beam” is hitting a solid object. Even the ground
would be just fine.

I also now have the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course on my radar screen, and will be getting it real soon. You take care now, - R.E.M.


Dear Jim:
I read 'The Gray Nineties' [an early draft edition of the novel "Patriots"] back when it was shareware, and did some gun accessory business with you back then. [In the early to mid-1990s.] I finally got around to perusing SurvivalBlog.

One of the old posts includes a plea for 'hard data' on effectiveness of herbal medicines. My wife used to work for a 'neutriceuticals' company, doing literature reviews, and as an M.D. I have some exposure to the literature as well (though not as much as I should -- I keep wasting time reading things that might have an effect on reducing my need for my own services). What I have observed is that there is not much out there in the way of good research on herbal preparations. What little there is shows mostly negative or equivocal results (which makes it hard to get published). What little halfway decent research my wife found back in the late 1990s was mostly out of Germany, but most of it was pretty disappointing.
I guess the bottom line is that under austere conditions (WTSHTF), it doesn't look like mother nature is going to provide us with the equivalent of our modern pharmacy. In a long term collapse, preventative medicine, simple surgery, orthopedics, midwifery/obstetrics will be left. Life spans will be shorter. You won't be able to prolong your death by a month with a $250,000 ICU stay if the technology isn't there. - Simple Country Doctor

In my latest issue of Disaster Recovery Journal (DRJ) magazine, I noticed that the the magazine, in conjunction with researchers at Pepperdine University conducted a survey of disaster recovery professionals (mainly computer types) about pandemic preparedness. 49% of the respondents said that they had "not determined the potential impact on business related domestic and international travel of a pandemic." and 42% said that they had "not yet started to identify essential employees and other critical inputs." The statistics from several DRJ surveys, including the Pepperdine survey are available online. OBTW, although subscriptions are free, I don't recommend subscribing to Disaster Recovery Journal unless you are involved in the Information Technology (IT) field. (Nearly all of the articles and advertisements in the magazine are IT related.)

   o o o

For those of you with fast Internet connections, Rich at KT Ordnance sent us a link to this video clip: Glenn Beck interviews Benjamin Netanyahu. He predicts a "second holocaust", instigated by Iran.

   o o o

From the Washington Post: Congressman Rangel (D.-NY) will seek to reinstate a military draft in the U.S. How would the system work? See: "What Happens in a Draft" at the Selective Service web site.


"Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book." - Ronald Wilson Reagan

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Shalom Jim:
Recently my wife and I have started looking to replace our old [clothes] washer and dryer machines with something more energy-efficient. Since we plan on converting to solar photovoltaic panels in the future what do you suggest we do now?

1.) Lehman's sells an AC +/ DC operated washer. Is this (DC) feature conducive to solar technology?

2.) What are you and your family doing for your clothes washing needs?

B'Shem Yahshua HaMoshiach (In the Name of Yahsua the Messiah) - Dr. Sidney Zweibel


JWR Replies:
1.) With a PV power system, using a DC motor clothes washer is indeed more efficient. Instead of inverting DC power from your battery bank to create AC, you can instead use it directly to run DC appliances. By the way, the same logic applies to most of the devices that use wall socket "power cubes." (Answering machines, printers, walk-around phones, battery chargers, laptop computers, et cetera.) It is grossly inefficient to invert DC into AC, and then convert it back into DC with umpteen separate transformers scattered around your house. If you have several rooms in your house wired with 12 VDC outlets (and if you have PV power system, you should), then you can simply fabricate a 12 VDC power cord for each device that can run on 12 VDC. The appropriate solder-on plugs are available from your local Radio Shack store.(Just pay close attention to the markings on the power cubes. A very small minority of them are AC to AC adapters!) To avoid confusion, I find that it is best to mark each resistor-adapted plug with its DC output voltage, using a DYMO type adhesive label. If you can handle a soldering iron and a volt-ohm meter, then you can also easily make adapters for each of your lower voltage low current DC devices that are currently run from power cubes.(For low current devices, you can either solder in the proper value resistor(s), or if you are "Ohm's Law challenged" you can buy off-the shelf DC-DC "buck" adapters.)

2.) During power failures, we can either run our washing machine from an inverter, or we can go totally low tech, and use a hand-powered "James Washer." If you have any questions about PV power systems or 12 VDC wiring,

As previously mentioned, Bob at Ready Made Resources is available for free consulting (with no purchase obligation) on photovoltaic power system sizing and design, as well as issues like the one that you raised. He is a stocking dealer for both Outback and Xantrex inverters. Bob has the specialized tools needed to calculate current loads, requisite battery bank sizing, charge controller capacity, available solar hours, solar panel array solar exposure and orientation, and so forth. I can attest that Bob really knows his stuff, and unlike some solar system specialists, he has considerable experience building systems that are custom tailored for survival retreats. I recommend that any SurvivalBlog readers that are considering installing an independent home power system take advantage of the free consulting offer from Ready Made Resources.

Hey Jim,
Just a couple of articles [over at the Alpha Rubicon site] that you might find interesting:
Safe Room Fan
HEPA Filter
Regards, - S.C.

JWR Replies: For any SurvivalBlog that might have overlooked it at my Links page, I highly recommend the wide variety of practical free references available at the Alpha Rubicon web site.

First, I just want to say I read your blog most every day and it is quite nice, and has a lot of good information, so thanks for doing it!
Here is an interesting link to an article on Peak Oil. These guys are claiming the Peak Oil theory is not moving along as fast as other reports.

Peak oil or not, I'm still working on getting prepared. Too many other variables exist!. Thanks, - D.J.

From Noah Shachtman at the Defense Tech blog, by way of OSOM: Google Earth -- keeping track of nukes.

   o o o

Reader Hawaiian K. mentioned: "Survival conditions are likely to bring on a resurgence of pests that have troubled mankind for a very long time. One of these might come in very handy."

   o o o

Redmist found this piece: Uses of GPS are expanding.

"The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." - George Will

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Our goal is to double the readership of SurvivalBlog by the end of 2007. Reader R.A. mentioned that there are already 719 different web sites that link to SurvivalBlog, but we could use a lot more links! If you have a web site or blog and don't yet have a link to SurvivalBlog, then please do so. It is quick and easy to add a SurvivalBlog link logo or link text. That would be greatly appreciated!

Great letters on thinking about skills as the ultimate portable "barter goods". If you have a specialty skill, just make sure that you have enough tools and supplies to be a post-TEOTWAWKI supplier. It's a big time commitment to become qualified in a specialty outside of your current work, but if you can leverage your current expertise with some more training and/or tools and/or supplies that would be ideal.
I would add that much the same criteria apply for skills as for goods. The best skills would be the ones that are mission-critical for survival in a horrific TEOTWAWKI situation - medical, security, food production, water supply come to mind. Just like goods, unless it is really, really needed at the survival level, I don't think there will be much demand for it.
Re: "After reading the various articles on barter goods, I am still confused as to why one would keep goods for barter."
As stated, "barter goods will give you purchasing power to buy consumables you run out of, stuff that breaks or wears out, items you didn't think ahead to store - or unforeseen needs, e.g., medical, new baby, new people at the farm, etc., etc. "
Predicting all future needs is impossible - barter goods give you one more option to trade with neighbors for the unforeseen, in the time between functioning economies. You may be an ER physician - but if your neighbors don't happen to need medical care right then you still want something of value to trade. Or you may be ill or injured, or you can't be spared from your retreat for security, etc., etc. Just like investing, diversification of your options to get what you need from your stores, barter goods and barter services is the way to go (or of course gold and silver when a rudimentary economy reemerges)
Re: "Supposedly you are at a rural retreat ... surrounded by a horde of people who are ill-equipped to cope."
If so you are in a very bad location for survival, and no amount of stuff or skills is likely to save you! If you are in lightly populated, good farm country you should have good neighbors to trade both skills and stuff.
Re: "Being a survivor isn't just about having stuff, it's about having skills."
I would bet the survivors will be those that have a good supply of both skills and stuff (and the right location). One can compensate for the other to some extent, but if you are too low on either you're in bad shape.
How about some suggestions for goods and skills that fulfill post-TEOTWAWKI criteria?
Regards, - OSOM "Out of Sight, Out of Mind"

Mr. Rawles:
I couldn’t agree more with Ron D’s article on the need for basic fitness. The most perfect Bug Out Bag in existence and the best hidden cache of beans, bullets and bandages won’t do you any good if you have a heart attack getting there.

I would add, though, that for strength training you don’t have to invest in a lot, or even any, equipment. Bodyweight calisthenics can help build strength rapidly using only your own body as the weight you are lifting. Unlike machines, or even free weights, bodyweight exercises don’t just target individual muscles but also strengthen all of the supporting muscles as well. At least in theory, and my experience bears it out, this results in fewer injuries.

Another advantage to bodyweight exercises is that you can do them anywhere. This is especially useful if you travel much for for work. Do them in a hotel room, at a roadside rest area, in a park or parking lot. And there’s nothing else to pack and lug along. Matt Furey is a leading voice in this area. His Combat Conditioning is a great resource for developing a workout routine appropriate for you. I sometimes find his style a bit hard to take, but his stuff works. - M.P.

Another safety item for melting lead: When done pouring bullets, it is important that any remaining lead should be poured out of the pot, rather leaving it to solidify in the pot. Lead like all other materials will expand when heated. Lead will also melt from the bottom up and if trapped by a solid layer at the top, may erupt when it breaks through that top layer. - R.H.

Hawaiian K. flagged this article from Cosmos magazine: Coat of paint could halt pandemic

   o o o

Rocky O. sent us this story about a minor panic in London caused by a single live .22 rimfire cartridge found on a sidewalk: Bullet found in doorway. When I read this article, I laughed so hard that I nearly cried. Rocky's comment: "Imagine what you could do with a whole box of .22s. Probably tie up their police force and bomb squad for weeks."

   o o o

Vic at Safecastle just launched a new private "Safecastle Royal" buyers club that allows for steeply discounted member pricing on everything that they sell. This includes Mountain House foods, Katadyn water filters, Maxpedition gear, Montague folding bikes, Dakota watches, and much more. Here's the link to the sign-up site:
Those who register and pay the one-time membership fee get access to a separate password-protected web site with the discounted pricing, online checkout, and so forth.

   o o o

A very interesting piece from the Defense Tech blog: Labouchere of Arabia.

"It is a sad commentary on human affairs, down to our day, that 'sweet reasonableness' and sensible quiet argument never get very far as such-that nothing gets done until a sizable bloc of people gets
organized and starts raising enough h*ll to persuade those in power that they had better start listening to what is being said." - George F. Willison "Patrick Henry and His World"

Friday, November 17, 2006

I am pleased to report that the new expanded 33 chapter edition of my survivalist novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" is finally now orderable from the publisher, XLibris. Sorry about the long delay, but the publishing process is agonizingly slow.

Until recently, the earlier 31 chapter edition of the book from Huntington House had been out of print, and it was getting very scarce. Prices range from $29 to $345 each! (The book went out of print when the publisher went out of business.) Now is your chance to order a few copies of the new edition in time to present them as Christmas gifts. The cover price is $22.99. You can order them at 15% discount ($19.54 + postage) by ordering directly from XLibris.

The new edition has larger print and is in a slightly larger format than the old edition. (The new edition measures 6"x9" The old edition measured 5-1/4" x 8-3/8".) The page count of the new edition is also slightly higher. (It is 384 pages versus 342 pages in the old edition.) If you are curious about the content difference between the two editions: The two new bonus chapters are an introduction to the Keane Brothers.

The ISBNs for the new trade paperback edition are:
ISBN 13: 978-1-425734-07-7
ISBN 10: 1-4257-3407-3 (To explain: The new ISBN system uses 13 digits, but the old 10 digit numbers can still be used during the transition period.)

Starting January 10, 2007, I will be selling autographed copies for $18.99 + $3.01 postage. ($22 each, postage paid, or $21 each if you order 2 or more, or $20 each if you order 3 or more.) Because of upcoming travel plans, I cannot fill any orders directly until January. If you need a copy before late January, then please order directly from the publisher: XLibris.

Are you a book dealer, or do you know of one that might want to stock my novel? Case lots (of 26 copies per case) are available directly from the publisher, with a 40% dealer discount, or a 50% to 60% wholesaler discount, (The discount is based on the quantity ordered.):
Fax: 610.915.0294
Telephone: 1.888.795.4274 x.479
Snail Mail: Xlibris Corporation; International Plaza II; Suite 340; Philadelphia, PA 19113

While barter for necessities is one possibility, barter for wealth is another. A poor man with a small investment in an essential TEOTWAWKI item can magnify his wealth. If you are not in a position to outfit yourself with the food/weapons/tools you would like now, consider a barter investment. Something you can get cheaply now, and then trade for the items that are currently out of your budget.
When choosing barter goods for storage, consider seven things. Original cost, size, availability, need, divisibility, verification, and indestructibility.
Items stored for barter should:
(1) Have a very low initial cost. In this way, barter becomes an investment, hedging against TEOTWAWKI
(2) Be small enough to take to market easily
(3) Be things very easy to obtain now and virtually impossible to obtain later due to the manufacturing process involved.
(4) Be things that you cannot easily live without
(5) Be easily divisible into smaller units
(6) Be easily and universally verifiable as being non-counterfeit
(7) Be resistant to the elements and time
I put forth Iodized salt. In Roman times, soldiers were paid in salt at the rate of about 150 pounds per year. That's less than 1/2 a pound a day.
The word salary comes from the word salt. In some parts of the ancient world, salt and gold were traded equally by weight.
You may consider the loss of salt a minor inconvenience but that is not so. You eat salt all day long without knowing it. Soda, bread, every food you eat is loaded with it. If you were truly given a salt free diet (no processed foods) and had to do any kind of manual labor, the sweat loss of salt could literally kill you. Iodine is a heavy element that washes away with the rain and so is not found in mountainous areas and away from the oceans. Lack of iodine causes goiter.
Salt is (1) very cheap now (2) can be sold in small packages at market (3) virtually impossible to obtain in TEOTWAWKI if you are away from the ocean (4) required for life. Add in iodized salt and doubly so. Remember the Goiter belts? (5) Divisible as it is a powder (6) recognizable by taste (7) virtually indestructible.
My second choice is the .22 rimfire cartridge which satisfies numbers 2,3,5, and 6. A $100 investment in salt now could easily be worth a fortune in another time and place. - SF in Hawaii

Hello James,
In regards to the recent post toward driveway security strips, or "spike strips" I think of another possibility to the construction in using a 2x6. I would consider fabricating the base out of treated 3/4" plywood. Not only is this already somewhat camouflage, it will take the years of abuse that weather will give it.
I envision a design in which the upper three or four layers that are glued together with construction adhesive, (preferably a polyurethane adhesive like PL Pro), and then drilled for insertion of spikes. Then, apply an additional layer with a width of approximately 18" more than the previous layers. This will serve two purposes.
1). It keeps the spikes from pushing through the bottom of the board when driven over thus helping penetration
2). Ideally the tire of the vehicle will be over the lowest layer thus stabilizing the setup without causing it to roll over with pressure. Assuming of course that you have dug a small trench to submerge the unit.
Plywood is much stronger than conventional Pine with much more resistance to breakage. More layers, and glued and screwed together will add to the strength. Keep in mind that different treatment processes require different fasteners that resist the corrosion factor of the chemical saturant of the wood/plywood.
Regards, - The Wanderer

Dear Jim,
I don't suspect a squib load as the problem for the M1A. A squib in a gas-operated semi-auto generally means no cycling of the bolt or ejection, which always indicates a problem.
While there's a link to an analysis that shows a flawed barrel, and I agree with it from the images shown, I also suspect an ammunition problem.
Consider that from the image, the chamber split, and split fast. No bulge, no crack, just a boom. This indicates a substantial overpressure in the chamber.
There are likely several things that can cause this. Two that come to mind are decaying powder or a weak primer.
The ideal cycle for a cartridge is for the primer ignition to fire up the center of the round, and the propellant to ignite from the inside out in an even burn. This is the purpose of larger primers for larger rounds--ANY primer will ignite the propellant. The trick is to ignite it properly.
If the charge is decayed or settled badly, or the primer is weak, what can happen is a "Deflagration." The propellant burns more slowly than it should, from either base to throat or from one side to the other, and compresses the remaining propellant, thus increasing the burn rate. Rather than 50,000 PSI or so, it is possible to exceed several hundred thousand PSI from the increasing wave--there's solid metal on one side, an expanding pressure front on the other, and the propellant in between is increasingly compressed.
This is exactly how a FAE works, or why a grain silo can blow apart.
The case split from the front and didn't just separate the head, which I think is further evidence of this. Also, the green around the primer on the bad round doesn't seem to match the lacquer on the comparison case. It could be an indication of calcium buildup from decay, which was more common with ammo from the 1950s and 1960s.
It's not a common occurrence, but certainly something to be aware of with old ammo. Check the condition before shooting. - Michael Z. Williamson

Just a little information, a few years back, while I was working for a gun shop we got in some surplus ammo from a major distributor, that unbeknownst to them had been tumbled to clean the brass. By tumbling the loaded rounds the size of the powder changed and you got an explosion instead of a burn, thus a ruined firearm, just thought you might want to pass this along, it might be the reason?
Thanks for all you do - JAH

Tom at sent this link: More than half of all equities trading in the US will be done using algorithmic dealing systems by the end of 2010.

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A clever nuke blast mapping tool, posted by Kurt, by way of Rourke at the Jericho Discussion Group.

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Rich at KT Ordnance mentioned that there's now a proposal to ban BB guns in Massachusetts. Complete with a BB gun amnesty period, and a BB gun "buyback" program. I will refrain from commenting on Taxachusetts politics. I might lapse into saying something un-Christian.


"It is constantly reiterated that education begins in the home, as indeed it does, but what is often forgotten is that morality begins in the home also." - Louis L'Amour, "Education of a Wandering Man"

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Our thanks to "RSF", the high bidder in the recent auction for the autographed first edition of Survival Guns, by Mel Tappan. Today we are starting a new auction, for a big batch of survival books, courtesy of Ready Made Resources.

Today we present yet another article for Round 7 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Since there have been so many great entries in this round of the contest, I will also be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win Round 7, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 7 will end on November 30th. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

This article is about cordage, one of the most used and necessary items for day-to-day life. Other than sinew, catgut, and rawhide, early man made his rope and string from more readily available plant material. Certain plant fibers were able to stand up to water emersion and made excellent nets and fishing line. Animal fibers, such as sinew and catgut, would stretch or unravel when wet and were more difficult to procure. Plant fibers were so much more abundant and easier to process; this left sinew and catgut for sewing, bow backing, arrow making and other arts requiring a strong, longer lasting material.
Another difference between plant and animal fibers is the strength comparison of a string made of sinew and a string of plant fiber. The plant fiber string, in most cases, would have to be twice the diameter of the sinew string to be of the same strength. Thus, for certain applications where weight and mass are important (such as arrow making) the thinner sinew would be the best choice. Sinew, catgut, and rawhide were not available in all areas since it usually comes from large animals. There aren’t very many places in North America where a decent cordage fiber plant isn’t available.
Cordage can be made from bark, branches, roots, stems, and leaves. In some rare cases the seed fluff from whorled milkweed and cottonwood was wound into cordage. This would be very labor intensive and was used mostly for ceremonial objects.
Trees can supply cordage by use of the bark, roots, and in a few cases, limbs. In the North, the roots of the spruce tree are used to make good, strong cordage. In the Great Lakes area, the Indians use this root for sewing the birch bark together on their canoes. The roots of the junipers, walnut, butternut, wild cherry, and osage orange are used too. Roots that grow in fine or sandy soil are the most favored as they are usually straighter and have fewer deformities. They are split in two or more sections and sometimes the outer bark is rubbed off. This is accomplished by rubbing the root section back and forth over a limb with somewhat rough bark, as if you were sawing it. Some bark and root binding materials tend to get a little brittle as they dry, so they are often soaked in water for a while before use. From my experience, roots make the best bow drill string of all. Always try to take only a few roots from several different trees. This doesn’t kill the tree and insures a future supply of roots.
The best bark cordage comes from small limbs. The bark is thinner, and this process won’t harm the tree. The inner bark of juniper, elm, cottonwood, aspen, basswood, moosewood, maple, willow, and desert willow are the most often used. Basswood is one of the better sources of fine bark cordage. The limbs-and in the case of a freshly fallen tree, the trunk-are stripped of their bark. This bark is held submerged for a few weeks until the inner bark starts to come loose in layers. These strips are then dried and stored for future use. When some cordage is needed, they’re soaked for a while before braiding or twisting. Slippery elm and willow bark make good, strong cordage. Most barks are best gathered May thru August because the bark comes off a lot easier. Out of season, the bark can still be loosened and removed by pounding the limbs gently with a wood maul or mallet made from a branch about 3” in diameter. Another piece of thick branch should be used as an anvil. Both anvil and mallet should be made smooth as possible to deter ruining the bark. If you decide to use a rock for an anvil, the bark may be damaged beyond use. Pounding works well on such barks as pawpaw, hickory, elm, maple, willow, and poplar. I’ve used slippery elm with the outer bark removed, and it made very strong rope for a wickiup shelter I was building. Many shrubs such as sagebrush, cliffrose, and flannelbush have usable bark as well. As an aside, most of these barks are used in basketry too.
Most grass stems and leaves used for cordage, such as sweetgrass, dunegrass, and the reeds are used whole without much further processing. Cattail leaves when used whole are usually braided into a somewhat usable rope. When shredded lengthwise, they make stronger cordage after they’ve been twisted together. The leaves of agave, yucca, and iris must be processed in some way to get the fibers. Agave has a sharp point at the end of the leaf that is hard and dense. This “needle” can be carefully pulled downward towards the base of the leaf and several fibers will remain attached. This can be used as is for sewing. To get the most fibers from an agave leaf, it is usually gently pounded or “retted”-that is, soaked in water until the fleshy part of the leaf rots away. One should use caution when working with agave, as the fresh leaf contains chemicals which cause dermatitis.
I prefer working with yucca; it is a very versatile plant to work with. In Paul Campbell’s book Survival Skills of Native California, there are several photos and references to articles made from yucca cordage. It was used by Indian tribes throughout the West to make nets, bow strings, and many other items. You can use the leaves green or dry. I prefer to process the green leaves by retting. After I gather a good sized bunch, I put them in a 5 gallon bucket, fill it with water, and let it set for a few days. When I check them, I hope to find most of the fleshy material is rotted or beginning to rot (you can tell the retting process is working by the terrible smell!). If the leaves are really mushy, they have retted long enough to work the fibers free. I do this by laying the leaves a few at a time on a board and running an old wood rolling pin over them to squeeze out the plant material; then the leaf remains are swooshed around in a bucket of clean water and the fibers are fairly cleaned of plant material. I then wring the bundles of fiber out and give them another rinse. This loosens even more plant material and the shorter, unusable fibers. These hanks of fiber are hung up to dry and put away ‘till I need to make some cordage. This is the easiest way I have found to process yucca. In the wilds you could do the same by putting them in a stream or pool and weighing them down.
If you use the dry yucca leaves, you will have to pound them with the mallet and anvil technique. The pounded bundles are then rubbed between the hands to loosen any plant material. I’ve heard of some folks who use a dull knife or stone flake to scrape the leaves and expose the fibers. I have tried this, but with limited success. I once cooked some yucca leaves to see if this would make them easier to work, but found the resulting fibers were a bit too stiff and hash, unlike the smooth, soft fibers from the retting process. Iris leaves have only two usable fiber strands per leaf. The average iris leaf is only one or two feet long. These fibers were highly valued considering the amount of labor it took to get a usable amount. The leaves are split lengthwise with the thumbnail. Sometimes an artificial thumbnail is used. It’s made from a mussel shell attached to the thumb with a bit of cordage. The two leaf halves are then scraped on both sides with the mussel shell thumbnail. This exposes a silky white fiber. The iris was mostly used in the Pacific Northwest and the fibers were twisted into cordage for fishing line, netting, snares and many other items.
The stem sections of many different plants hold useful cordage fibers. Plants such as nettle, dogbane, velvet leaf, milkweed, prairie flax, thistle, and fireweed are valued for their quality fibers. I have processed many hundreds of feet of stinging nettle, dogbane, and milkweed cordage. These stems are hollow or have a pith core. They are collected in the fall after the last leaves have fallen off, usually after the first frost. The stems are left to dry in a warm place and then they are checked for brittleness. I then split them lengthwise, usually into four sections. These sections are easier to work with. Each section is carefully snapped every few inches, beginning at the bottom. As I snap each small section, I carefully peel the fiber bearing bark loose. Hopefully, I’ll end up with a section of bark the full length of the stem. Short sections of bark are still useful as the fibers can be spliced onto longer sections of cordage. As I twist the sections into cordage, the dry brittle bark falls off leaving nice silky fiber. Sometimes the cord has to be twisted back and forth several times to loosen stubborn bark fragments. Some folks use a knife to scrape the bark off the stem before sectioning it but I prefer to just let it fall off while twisting. If you’re not careful, you can scrape too deep and ruin the fiber.
Vines and branches are used as cordage. Grapevine, greenbrier, and hazelnut are just a few of the many different plants used in this fashion. Most vines are used for light weight tasks as they aren’t very strong. Hazelnut withes are used to tie bundles of fire wood, and a strong cord with tumpline is tied to the bundle for transportation. These withes can be bent double and are also used as handles on stone axes and hammers.
Knowing the plants and techniques for making rope and cordage is only a small part of the many skills needed to survive. It is important to have a working knowledge of such skills as fire making, tool making, trapping, shelter construction, and others; these complement each other in the art of primitive survival. Several of the books in the bibliography illustrate the technique of turning fiber into cordage. Also, there are several sites on the Internet that illustrate the process of twisting fiber into cordage. If you are interested, do a Google search for “cordage” and “primitive skills”.

Survival Skills of Native California – Paul Campbell
Primitive Wilderness Living & Survival Skills Vol. 1 & 2 - John & Geri McPherson
Bushcraft – Mors Kochanski
Any of the Peterson Field Guides on flowering plants, trees and shrubs; these guides are well illustrated and there are different editions for the Eastern and Western United States.


Abutilon abutilon=Velvet Leaf,Indian Mallow (stem)
Acer glabrum=Rocky Mountain Maple (bark) Acer macrophyllum=Bigleaf maple (bark) Acorus calamus=Sweetflag (leaves Agave americana=American Century Plant (leaves) Agave deserti=Desert Agave (leaves) Agave lechuguilla=Lechuguilla (leaves) Agave parryi= Parry Agave (leaves) Agave schottii= Schott Agave (leaves) Agave toumeyana =Toumey Agave (leaves) Agave utahensis=Century Plant (leaves) Althaea officinalis=Marsh Mallow (stem) Amelanchier alnifolia=Saskatoon Serviceberry (branchs) Apocynum androsaemifolium=Dogbane (stem) Apocynum cannabinum= Dogbane,Black Indian Hemp,Armyroot (stem) Arctium lapa= Burdock (stem) Argentina anserina=Silverweed Cinquefoil (runners) Artemisia tridentata=Sagebrush (bark) Asclepias asperula=Antelope Horns Milkweed (stem) Asclepias eriocarpa=Woolypod Milkweed (stem) Asclepias fascicularis=Mexican Whorled Milkweed (stem) Asclepias hallii=Purple Milkweed (stem) Asclepias incarnata=Swamp Milkweed (stem) Asclepias lanceolata=Narrow Leaved Purple Milkweed (stem) Asclepias ovalifolia=Milkweed (stem) Asclepias pulchra=Hairy Milkweed,White Indian Hemp (stem) Asclepias pumila=Low Milkweed (stem) Asclepias purpurascens=Purple Milkweed (stem) Asclepias quadrifolia=Fourleaf Milkweed (stem) Asclepias rubra=Red Milkweed (stem) Asclepias speciosa=Showy Milkweed (stem) Asclepias subverticillata=Whorled Milkweed (seed hair) Asclepias syriaca=Common Milkweed (stem) Asclepias tuberosa=Butterfly Weed,Pleurisy Root (stem) Asclepias viridiflora=Green Milkweed (stem) Asimina triloba=Pawpaw (bark & root)
Boehmeria cylindrica=False Nettle (stem)
Carex barbarae=Santa Barbara Sedge (root)
Carya =Hickory (bark & root)
Cedrus =Cedar (bark & root)
Cercis canadensis= California Redbud (bark)
Chamaecyparis nootkatensis=Alaska Cedar (bark)
Chamerion angustifolium=Fireweed (stem)
Chilopsis linearis=Desert Willow (bark)
Cirsium arvense=Canadian Thistle (stem)
Cirsium edule= Edible Thistle (stem)
Cirsium vulgare=Bull Thistle (stem)
Clematis ligusticifolia=Western White Clematis (stem)
Convolvulus arvensis=Field Bindweed (stem)
Cornus sericea=Redosier Dogwood (bark)
Corylus cornuta var. californica=California Hazelnut (twigs)
Corylus cornuta var. cornuta=Beaked Hazelnut (twigs)
Cowania mexicana=Cliffrose (bark)
Dirca palustris=Moosewood,Leatherwood (bark)
Elaeagnus commutata=Silverberry (bark)

Fraxinus =Ash (bark)
Fremontodendron californicum= California Flannelbush (bark)
Geranium atropurpureum=Western Purple Cranesbill (stem)
Glyceria Canadensis =Sweetgrass (stem)
Gossypium hirsutum=Upland Cotton (fuzz)
Hoita macrostachya=Large Leatherroot (root)
Iris douglasiana=Western Iris (leaves)
Iris innominata=Del Norte County Iris (leaves & root)
Iris macrosiphon=Bowltube Iris (leaves)
Iris tenax=Klamath Iris (leaves)
Juglans cinerea=Butternut (bark)
Juglans nigra =Black Walnut (bark & root)
Juncus effusus =Common Rush (stem)
Juncus tenuis =Poverty Rush (stem)
Juniperus californica =California Juniper (bark & root)
Juniperus communis =Common Juniper (bark & root)
Juniperus deppiana = Alligator Juniper (bark & root)
Juniperus horizontalis =Creeping Juniper (bark & root)
Juniperus monosperma= Oneseed Juniper (bark & root)
Juniperus occidentalis =Western Juniper (bark & root)
Juniperus osteosperma =Utah Juniper (bark & root)
Laportea canadensis=Canadian Woodnettle (stem)
Larix laricina=Tamarack (root)
Leymus mollis=American Dunegrass (leaves)
Linaria linaria=Toad Flax (stem)
Linum lewisii=Prairie Flax (root & stem)
Liriodendron tulipifera= Tulip Tree (bark)
Lonicera ciliosa=Orange Honeysuckle (stem)
Lupinus arboreus=Bush Lupine (root)
Maclura pomifera=Osage Orange (root)
Morus alba= White Mulberry (root)
Morus microphylla=Texas Mulberry (root)
Morus rubra= Red Mulberry (root)
Nereocystis luetkeana=Bull Whip Kelp (stem)
Nolina microcarpa=Sacahuista (Agavaceae) (leaves)
Oenothera biennis=Evening Primrose (stem)
Phragmites communis=Reed Grass (stem & leaves)
Picea engelmannii =Engelmann’s Spruce (root & limb)
Picea glauca=White Spruce (root)
Picea mariana=Black Spruce (root)
Picea sitchensis=Sitka Spruce (root)
Populus balsamifera=Brayshaw Black Cottonwood (bark)
Populus deltoides=Eastern Cottonwood (bark)
Populus fremontii=Fremont’s Cottonwood (bark)
Populus tremuloides= Quaking Aspen (bark)
Potamogeton diversifolius=Waterthread Pondweed (stem)
Prosopis glandulosa=Honey Mesquite (bark)
Prunus emarginata =Bitter Cherry (bark & root)
Psoralea macrostachya= (stem)
Psoralidium lanceolatum= Lemon Scurfpea (root)
Quercus =Oak (bark & root)
Ribes divaricatum=Spreading Gooseberry (root)
Ribes lacustre=Prickly Currant (root)
Ribes lobbii=Gummy Gooseberry (root)
Robinia pseudoacacia = Black Locust (root)
Salix bebbiana= Beb Willow (bark)
Salix discolor=Pussy Willow (bark)
Salix exigua= Sandbar Willow (bark)
Salix laevigata=Red Willow (bark)
Salix lasiolepis= Arroyo Willow (bark)
Salix lucida= Pacific Willow (bark)
Salix lutea=Yellow Willow (bark)
Salix melanopsis= Dusky Willow (bark)
Salix scouleriana= Scouler’s Willow (bark)
Salix sitchensis= Sitka Willow (bark)
Salvia =Sage (root)
Scirpus acutus =Beetle Hardstem Bulrush (root & stem)
Sesbania macrocarpa=Wild Hemp (stem)
Serenoa repens=Saw Palmetto (leaves)
Smilax =Greenbrier (vine)
Taxodium distichum=Baldcypress (bark)
Thuja plicata=Western Redcedar (bark & limbs)
Tilia americana =Basswood (bark)
Tillandsia usneoides=Spanish Moss (stem)
Tsuga canadensis=Eastern Hemlock(root)
Typha latifolia=Broad-leaved Cattail (leaves)
Typha angustifolia=Narrow-leaved Cattail (leaves)
Typha domingensis=Southern Cattail (leaves)
Ulmus rubra =Slippery Elm (bark & root)
Urtica dioica=Stinging Nettle (stem)
Urtica dioica ssp. holosericea=Stinging Nettle (stem)
Urtica dioica ssp. gracilis=California Nettle (stem)
Vicia americana=American Vetch (root)
Vitis aestivalis=Summer Grape (vine)
Vitis californica=California Wild Grape (vine)Yucca angustissima=Narrowleaf Yucca (leaves)
Yucca baccata=Banana Yucca (leaves)
Yucca baileyi=Navajo Yucca (leaves)
Yucca brevifolia=Joshua Tree (leaves)
Yucca elata=Soaptree Yucca (leaves)
Yucca glauca=Small Soapweed (leaves)
Yucca harrimaniae =Spanish Bayonet (leaves)
Yucca shidigera=Mojave Yucca (leaves)
Yucca schottii =Schott Yucca (leaves)
Yucca Whipplei= Chaparral Yucca (leaves)


Michael Z. Williamson sent us this piece: What's the Story on Silver Coin Melts & Coin Premiums?

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Hawgtax forwarded this one from The Associated Press: Tyson Foods sees higher meat prices as cost of corn feed rises. It begins: "Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest meat processor, warned Monday that rising corn prices could mean U.S. consumers will have to pay more for chicken, beef and pork next year as it ended its fiscal year with a third straight quarterly loss."

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A tip of the hat to SurvivalBlog reader "Redmist" who contributed many of the Quotes of the Day that have been posted in the past two months.

"The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected." - Will Rogers

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The high bid is now at $150 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction, It is for a scarce autographed first edition copy of the book Survival Guns by Mel Tappan. The auction ends an midnight, eastern time tonight (November 15th.) Please submit your bid via e-mail.

Most of the modern home vacuum cleaners have pretty decent high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in them nowadays. Assuming you still have power (a big if) you could seal a room to the best of your ability and leave your vacuum cleaners running (with the air intakes off the floor). If you have a bag type, remember to put a new bag in. Presto, filtered air, McGyver style. If all you have is an older style vacuum cleaner with no filter, then put a damp rag (and keep it damp) over the air intake, but be careful not to overheat the vacuum with too thick a cloth. The point of the water is that the majority of dust won't fly when wet. If you want to be more creative, see if you can attach the air intake to a makeshift "bong" (or buy one from a "head" shop. Just ask a local teenager). This will pull the room air though a larger quantity of water. A standard bong would not do much as the bubble size would be too large and keep the majority of the air from contacting the water, but putting an aquarium bubbler at the submerged end of the bong stem will reduce bubble size and make it more effective. You could also think about adding a surfactant to the water to decrease surface tension making the bubbles smaller again. Perhaps some soap would work.
This would be the best option as it's the tiniest particles that are the most damaging as they can pass through your lungs directly into your bloodstream and the kind of HEPA filters on vacuums won't stop these. Of course if power goes out, then even a pricey safe room air filtration system would be useless if it wasn't running on battery or backup. - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: Thanks for that suggestion. Some household vacuums use water pipe type filtration. One example is the Rainbow brand. This is the type of vacuum that we use on a day-to-day basis here at the Rawles Ranch. These Rainbow vacuums are quite expensive if purchased new, but can sometimes be found used at reasonable prices. (You might try a "Want to Buy" ad on

One advantage of the vacuum cleaner approach is that by sourcing outside air, it provides a positive overpressure for your shelter. This will make up for any minor inadequacies in tape sealing your windows and doors. Keep in mind that in a nuke scenario (nuclear bomb, a sub-critical "dirty bomb", or a nuclear power plant melt-down) that your filter media will gradually become occluded with fallout dust and that dust will be very "hot." This means that the filter must be isolated with shielding from the occupied portion of your shelter. (A double thickness stack of ammo cans filled with ammunition should be adequate for this task.) A variation of the vacuum cleaner approach that requires no elctricity is a hank crank-powered or bicycle frame-powered squirrel cage fan. These fans can be salvaged from discarded house furnaces. Just ask your local heating contractors for a couple of discards. Your local welding shop can improvise a sprocket attachment for powering the fan. For general information on shelter air supply and filtration systems, see Cresson Kearney's indispensable book "Nuclear War Survival Skills". (Available for free download at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine web site.)

Mr Rawles,
Here are a few British sites that may be of interest I found while looking at a fan site for an old TV series called Survivors which was written by Terry Nation, who also created Dr. Who for the BBC. The BBC Survivors series was made back in the 1970's and while the technology and BBC aversion to realistic weaponcraft might make many of you readers weep (myself included) the themes and storylines of a group of middle class English people who survive a plague that kills all but 1 in 10,000 people are timeless. Along with Andre Norton's old Science Fiction book 'Starman's Son' it was one of the major reasons for my interest in survivalism when I was a kid. You can order the series through the British Amazon Note: American viewers must have a "region free" DVD player to operate these DVDs!
The first site is about a book called There Falls No Shadow, together with the other novels in the series, documents the fight of the survivors of a terrorist-released global pandemic to rebuild their lives in a world stripped of all but one in ten thousand of its inhabitants. I have just ordered the book myself so can't vouch for it but the reviews seem good. The author seems to be a Scottish/Yorkshire version of yourself.
The second site is a more generic site by the Ludlow Survival Group in the UK. In particular there is a well illustrated bug out bag designed for people living in cold/wet climates.
I hope this is useful to you and your readers. Regards, - FDz

Hi Jim,
I have two notes regarding casting your own bullets (or any other metal for that matter): First: One piece of safety equipment that you really should have on hand when casting any metal is dry sand. Make sure you have at least 25 pounds of dry sand at the ready. If there is a metal spill, dump the sand on it and it will contain the flow and cool it quickly, plus it will cut of the supply of
oxygen, preventing fire.
Second: A fire extinguisher is good to have to put out fires, but with molten metal flowing all over the place lighting things on fire, a fire extinguisher is not enough. You must never put water on molten metal, because it will cause a steam explosion. This will burn you, and send splatters of molten metal flying all over the place making your problems much worse. Choose a dry chemical fire extinguisher that is rated to be used on electrical fires.
Metal casting is fun, and can be accomplished without accidents if you are diligent about your techniques. It is a skill that will be most useful if and when the SHTF. I just read C.W. Ammen's "The Complete Handbook of Sand Casting" and feel that it is a great start to making almost anything out of metal.
Be blessed! - Chris


I drop bullets from the mould into the five gallon bucket of water in which I have placed a mesh nylon bag. When I am through casting I hang up the bag of bullets to dry. I have found that lubricant will not stay on damp bullets. Regards, - Vlad


A link to a much safer and far superior method of manufacturing bullets than casting hot lead is to swage bullets:
I have had and used professional level swaging equipment from my first business opportunity in 1982.
While I have sold that original business many years ago I continue to manufacture my own jacketed bullets for my favorite bench-rest rifles and continue to enjoy a much safer and cleaner method to manufacture bullets.
While swaging is considerably more expensive (and I continue to cast bullets from time to time, particularly for black powder arms.) I can say from over twenty years now that I enjoy the method and results much more than I could ever enjoy casting hot lead.
Swaged bullets are world record breakers, almost every precision competition rifle event is dominated by custom swaged bullets and for good reason, the ultimate in accuracy and quality.
I have over the years collected a shop full of swage dies for rifle and pistol and have not regretted the purchase, if anything it has enhanced my enjoyment of the craft of reloading, knowing I am in total control from primer choice to jacket material and bullet weight (down to the tenth of a grain!)
I would suggest that if you are serious about swaging that you buy one of the special designed presses (the main product form Corbin pulls double duty as swage press and reloading press) as the pressures involved are too much for a standard reloading press.
Imagine the potential of manufacturing jacketed bullets when you may be the only supplier available, often using junk or scrap metals for jackets (the ability to turn .22 LR casings into jackets for center-fire .22 rifles).
I would not want to place the curse of the foul habit of bench-rest shooting and reloading on any sane person, the benefits of cold lead flow forming of lead and jacketed bullets is worth the investigation. - Wotan


"[T]he value of doing something does not lie in the ease or difficulty, the probability or improbability of its achievement, but in the vision, the plan, the determination and the perseverance, the effort and the struggle which go into the project. Life is enriched by aspiration and effort, rather than by acquisition and accumulation.- Helen and Scott Nearing, Living the Good Life

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

We woke up this morning to yet another power failure. It was the third one in just a week. These are just something that you have to get used to, when living out in the hinterboonies. I look at each outage as a small shake-down exercise, in anticipation of an eventual long term grid-down whammy.

Today we present yet another article for Round 7 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Since there have been so many great entries in this round of the contest, I will also be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win Round 7, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 7 will end on November 30th. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Bullet casting is likely one of the oldest activities regarding firearms. From the time humans graduated from using shaped rocks, casting was the method of choice for just about every projectile. While there are other methods that allow for more complex designs (swaging, see casting is still the best simple method for turning a lump of otherwise useless lead into a projectile that will put food on your table and protect your family.
It is important to note that casting is a dangerous process. Casting will expose you to toxic metals at high temperature. Safety is paramount. I suggest wearing safety glasses at the minimum. At the max, wear a welder’s apron or suit, with the boot covers, a face shield, hat, and respirator (rated for metallic oxide gasses). Molten lead flows like water, but with the density of concrete and will either sear, or vaporize anything it comes in contact with including but not limited to human flesh. Have a fire extinguisher near by, as well as a large tub of water (if you get splashed, immediately immerse the burn area in cool water). Conduct all casting outside, or in a very well ventilated area. I typically work on the back porch, with a box fan blowing vapors away from the house and myself. I most often set the melting pot on the [porch] floor; so if it spills it will not splash everywhere. When casting, melt lead only in steel or cast iron containers, aluminum will not stand up to the heat, neither will zinc, or copper.
The beauty of bullet casting is it's a simple process, however, without the right tools it is impossible. This section covers the tools you need to make a bullet. I will discuss reloading in a future article (I'm still working on it).
Heat Source
The heat source can be anything, from a campfire, to a camp stove, to a blowtorch. The heat source I have chosen is a dual fuel stove made by Coleman. It is small, has a single burner, and is powered by gasoline or camp fuel. The thing to keep in mind is the more BTUs a stove can put out, the more lead you can melt. One of those large Cajun cookers used for turkey frying kits is ideal. It has a sturdy base, hooks up to a bulk propane tank, and will boil 5 gallons of oil in nothing flat.
Melting Pot
The melting pot is another thing that can be improvised from whatever you have available. Generally speaking you want a metal pot that is somewhat shallow <5" and rather wide 8" or so. I use a 2qt Texsport Dutch oven I bought for $10 at a local surplus store. This pot reliably holds about 40 lbs of lead, has a lid which makes it great for breaking down large amounts of scrap (the lid helps pre-heat all of the material, so it melts faster.). I recommend owning several of varying sizes, large laboratory crucibles work, I also used a 20oz steel coffee cup for a while, and still use this when the lead gets too shallow in the big pot.
Lead Handling Tools
There are a number of tools, which are useful for this. I recommend several pairs of slide-lock pliers; they are great for handling hot flasks of lead that otherwise you couldn't pick up. You should also have several pairs of gloves. A set of welding gloves is great, as well as a set of heavy gardening gloves for sorting scrap lead; they will also protect your hands from the heat when the welding gloves are too cumbersome. Additionally, a few hooked tools (for picking up the lid, and the lead pot) come in handy. Also you will need a large ladle, a large stainless steel ladle is good for pouring lead into ingot moulds. The final tool that is an absolute necessity is the ladle for pouring lead into the bullet moulds. These are typically fairly small, and only hold about an ounce or so of lead. I recommend buying a ladle purpose made for this (the one made by lee manufacturing is cheap and works great. I recommend buying several ladles for when your friends want to try. If you have several mould sets, you can cast out 20 lbs of lead in nothing flat with help).
Bullet Moulds
The bullet moulds are probably the most important part of your casting setup. Without these you don't make bullets. I recommend lee moulds for starters, they are inexpensive, and for low volume production fit the bill, they also heat up quickly due to their aluminum construction and are ready to cast with 1-2 heat pours. A good place to buy moulds is at gun shows. There are a number of people who frequent these shows who seem to be locked into a serious casting hobby, and have great numbers of used moulds for sale at reasonable prices. Most of the people who are really into bullet casting buy Lyman moulds almost exclusively, and I have found that they have a great variety of cavity shapes that will fit almost any bullet makers want list. Most bullet moulds also need a knocker or a mallet for cutting the sprue off. I use a length of hanger rod (wooden) about 12" long. Others recommend hammer handles (no head, just handle).
Ingot Moulds
If you are interested in casting, you should buy at least one ingot mould. Ingot moulds allow you to break down large volumes of scrap lead, and put it into a form, which can be saved for later use. Most ingot moulds cast one pound blocks. This is by far the most useful size unless you are doing small batches of test alloys. Lee makes an ingot mould that makes 2 one pound bars, and 2 half pound bars, I personally prefer the Lyman mould, which makes 4 one pound bars.
Hardness Tester
Hardness testers will measure the hardness of a given alloy and are useful if you are trying to make bullets with certain characteristics. Most hardness testers measure lead hardness on the Brinel scale, and it is possible to adjust the alloy while it is still molten. If you wish to do this, you should have stocks of tin, antimony and pure lead. (Pure lead makes things soft, antimony makes sure the bullets will not shrink too much, tin makes it harder, arsenic can also be used but tin is less toxic).
Lubricants and Sizers
One practice most reloaders are not familiar with when it comes to reloading is lubricating and sizing, All cast bullets must be lubed, and in most cases they must be sized to make sure they are not over bore size. Most mould makers cut their mould cavities larger to account for bullet shrinkage; depending on the level of shrinkage you can have bullets that are either too small, or too large. Too small is less of an issue, but too large can result in excessive chamber pressures. I have had good luck with Lee Liquid Alox and their lube sizer die. Some people prefer the Lyman lube-sizers, which use heated lube, the end product comes out with what most reloaders, would recognize as cast bullets.
Casting Thermometer
Most casting thermometers resemble those like you would use for determining if you have cooked that roast or turkey enough. Except they are capable of measuring the high temperatures of molten lead. Pure lead melts at about 650 degrees F. Whereas certain alloys have lower and higher melting points. The best casting is accomplished about 20-50 degrees over the melting point.
Sources of Lead
You can buy lead at a number of locations, plumbing shops, custom metal shops, gun shops, places that provide linotype for print shops (though not so often any more).
The other option and how I typically obtain most of my lead is as scrap, as I am not particularly discerning when it comes to my bullet making. For the most part, I make adjustments to the mixture while it is molten to give the characteristics I want.
Ideal locations to look for scrap lead are indoor shooting ranges, outdoor shooting ranges, tire shops, print shops and other bulk users of lead. I get most of my lead from tire shops in the form of wheel weights. I am able to obtain anywhere from 25 lbs, all the way up to several hundred pounds per tire shop. Some shops recycle this material, others will sell it to you, and some will give it to you for free.
After getting a quantity of scrap lead, the next thing to do is break it down, this process melts down the lead, removes the dirt, grime, and tire clips. I typically put my large pot on the stove, throw a load of lead in, put the lid on, and turn the stove on. Within 10 minutes, the bottom layers will start to melt down and fill the bottom with molten lead. You can usually push the top layers down and get it to melt down faster. Eventually you will have a puddle of lead with a bunch of crap floating on the top. Scrape this material off; it usually works best if you use a large slotted spoon (pre-heat the spoon by letting it sit in the lead for a minute, otherwise the lead will clump on it.) Once you get the clips off, you can use a smaller ladle to skim the other debris off the top. Sometimes adding candle wax to this helps it clump up, but beware, the wax will boil and catch on fire. While the wax is burning, you can use it to smoke your moulds, which will prevent the lead from sticking to the moulds. Scrape the material off and throw it in a five pound coffee can, some lead will be lost in this, and you can re-melt it later and recover more lead.
Once you decide the lead is clean enough, you can either cast bullets or cast ingots. If you are casting ingots, simply take your large ladle, and fill up each cavity (if your pot is small enough, you can simply lift it up and pour it, but I wouldn't suggest this if it weighs more than 10 lbs).
Wheel weights come in several types, there are tape weights that are normally used on those fancy aluminum rims some people buy, this is usually flat and has a sticky back. Typically these are an alloy that has a higher amount of lead and less antimony/tin than normal wheel weights. I sort these out, and ingot them separately and use them later for customizing my alloys.
Standard wheel weights are long, have a gentle curve to them and come in a variety of lengths and weights. There is a little chunk of steel on these that clips it to the wheel. When you melt the lead, these will float to the surface.
The third type of weight comes in both clip, and in tape weight form. These are made either of steel or zinc, these for the most part do not melt in the lead, however, zinc has a relatively low melting point, and can be melted with the lead, if this happens it can add properties to the lead which make it of very poor quality for casting. You should do your best to remove all of these before you throw the lead in the pot. The easiest way to tell the difference is to hold the weight by the edge, and drag it along the concrete. If it rubs off it is lead, if it scrapes the concrete it's zinc or steel. Separate these, and you can take it down to the metals recycler in your area. (Or you can save it for casting if you alloy brass, bronze or other copper alloys)
The final step is to perform a QC test on your product. Most Hardness testers use a bullet to test. You should now cast a single bullet (see the section below) and put it into the hardness tester. If you find your alloy is soft (it most often will be) you can add tin and antimony to the mix to harden it up. Antimony is a difficult material to come by and has a high melting point, but lead-antimony alloys have a lower melting point than either metal (a property called eutectic), the easiest way is to add linotype or other high-antimony alloy. Tin is commonly available as plumbers solder. Vary these until your bullets are to a level you are satisfied with. For pistol bullets, I am happy with soft lead (just pure scrap), for rifle bullets I would want something harder.
Making Your Own Bullets
Lets assume you have a large pot of molten lead in front of you, a mould, and a ladle. If you haven’t already done so, you should now smoke your moulds either with a carbide lamp, or with a candle. This prevents lead from sticking to the mould. Carbide lamps, and acetylene torches work better than candles. When using a candle don't get any molten wax on the moulds.
Bullet moulds consist of several parts; there are the handles, the mould blocks, and the sprue plate. The sprue plate gives you a little dimple to pour the lead into, and will also cut the sprue off the bullet. Once you are ready to cast, place the tip of the sprue plate into the hot lead. This pre-heats the sprue plate so hot lead doesn't immediately cool and block the rest of the lead from flowing into the mould. When the sprue plate is hot enough, lead will not clump up on it (think of a wick being dipped into hot wax when making candles).
After you have pre-heated your mould, pick up your small ladle and fill up your mould. It takes a little bit of finesse to get this process down, but you will get it rather quickly. Now, you should knock the sprue plate to the side, cutting the sprue (save the sprues and throw them back in the pot next time you need to add more lead). You can now open the moulds and dump out the bullet. I typically use a large metal pail about half full of water to dump the cast bullets into. (Some people prefer dumping them on a damp rag). The bullets are quickly cooled by the water and fall to the bottom. You can now repeat this process until you have the desired number of bullets, or until you run out of lead.
Before you run out of lead, you should sort your bullets, any of them that do not meet your satisfaction can be thrown back in the pot, and re-melted down until they come out as you expected.
The next step in the bullet making process, after you have cast them, is to lubricate them. Lubricating using Lee Liquid Alox is a simple process. Put bullets in a plastic container (I use cottage cheese containers) put some Alox in, and shake. They should come out with a thin coating, if the coating comes out too thick, add more bullets and shake. Once you have applied Alox to them, lay out a sheet of tinfoil outside, and set the bullets tip side up to dry (takes a few hours). Faster drying can be obtained using an electric hair dryer. I also set the bullets tip down in one of the 50 round plastic things that they pack pistol ammo in, then place a piece of cardboard on top, and turn it upside down. This spaces the bullets and makes it easier to lay them out. It is also a good way to count the number you have produced.
After lubing, insert your lubri-sizer die into your reloading press, put the ram into the shell holder slot, put a bullet on top, and run it through the die. Once they come out the other side, they are fit for reloading. I usually put them in a canvas bag (shot bags work well) label them and store them until I'm ready to reload them.
Using a Fire to Melt Lead
While I highly suggest using a modern gas or propane stove, it is possible to use a wood fired stove, or a campfire. Since I typically cast using an old Dutch oven, the process would remain similar, except I would place the oven inside the fire, and I would stoke the fire using an air pump or a fan to reduce the time it takes. The ideal way to do this would be using something similar to the method described in the Gingery books for making your own foundry. Just don't get your cast ware too hot, otherwise you may damage it, a cast iron pot will last forever casting lead, but may only last a few times when casting aluminum or bronze. Temperature is everything. For lead, buy a good casting thermometer. For anything hotter, get a good tool that's designed for it!
Casting your own bullets can be a fairly time consuming process, but it is fun, and informative, not many people out there still make their own bullets, and in a TEOTWAWKI situation, you may be one of the few people with a relatively unlimited supply of projectiles. Obtaining lead from scrap sources is almost free, and lead has an unlimited shelf life. If you combine this practice with other strategic stockpiles (powder, primers) you may have several lifetimes of shooting ahead of you, regardless of external conditions.

JWR Adds : The safety issues of bullet casting cannot be over-emphasized. Needless to say, your lead melting pot should be permanently and prominently marked "Lead Melting Only." This is best done with an engraving pen. Melt and cast only in a well ventilated area. (Lead poisoning is gradual, insidious, and difficult to detect without a clinical lab test!) It is an absolute must to wear long gloves (preferably elbow-length), boots, a heavy canvas or leather apron, sturdy pants and a sturdy shirt with long sleeves, and a full face mask when melting and casting. All it takes is one live primer or cartridge dropped accidentally into a batch of scrap lead, or a bit of water that becomes exploding steam, and SPLAT! Hot lead flies in all directions. So you must wear the proper safety gear from start to finish in the melting and casting process. Also, keep a dry chemical type fire extinguisher and a large bucket of dry sand handy. Do not use water from your quenching bucket to fight a fire started by spilled molten lead. That could cause a steam explosion and, as previously noted, that would send molten lead flying!

Thunar pointed us to this news story: The Plunge Protection Team is back in action.

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Rourke mentioned an interesting site on current threats, over at his Jericho Discussion Group. You've heard of the "30,000 foot view"? How about a global "at a glance" view of world events?

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Tom W. spotted this opinion piece from the Online Journal: Bush’s Chernobyl Economy; Hard Times are on the Way, by Mike Whitney

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison, to the Virginia ratifying Convention, June 16, 1788.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Thanks for making SurvivalBlog such a huge success. Keep spreading the word!

Please remember that SurvivalBlog is supported primarily by our advertisers. (See our right hand scrolling "ad bar.") Take the time to visit each of the advertiser web sites and check out their products. If and when you do make a purchase, please patronize our paid advertisers first. (We also have a lot of affiliate advertisers, but those ads result in just a few sporadic and small "piece of the action" commissions.) And needless to say, please mention SurvivalBlog when you contact any of our advertisers. Thanks.

As for the persistent stream of articles related to barter goods: After reading the various articles on barter goods, I am still confused as to why one would keep goods for barter. Supposedly you are at a rural retreat, stocked with everything you could need during your lifetime (guns, ammo, band aids, reading material, and toilet paper) and are surrounded by a horde of people who are ill-equipped to cope. But now we have interjected the need to trade, and buy things, I suppose it would be great to have a store in this situation, but what's the point in having a store to sell stuff to the destitute. I suppose it's keenly American to think that stuff will solve all our problems. There has been a lot of talk about goods, but what about services? Are you going to use your barter goods to buy services? If so, then what kind of services? Paying little orphan billy with food to sweep your floors, wash your car, milk the cows? What services can you offer to your neighbors?
Being a survivor isn't just about having stuff, it's about having skills. Technical skills, people skills, leadership skills. Having stuff is great, I like my stuff, but in a TEOTWAWKI, situation I realize I may be left with stuff I can keep in my pocket, and perhaps not even that. The skills I have are something I can use to buy more stuff if I so choose. Don't trade tools. Instead, have tools and the skill to use them so people will be trading you their barterables. And most importantly don't let the stuff you own, end up owning you. Just thought I would throw in my US $.02 - AVL


There are two kinds of things to barter with; goods and services. Barter with goods is useful but of course the items you store for barter (1) take space (2) can deteriorate (3) can be stolen and (4) are not unlimited in quantity. Barter with services have none of these disadvantages. If you have tools and knowledge you can take them with you anywhere. In my mind, barter of goods would be done by people caught unprepared for a crisis. Here, take my wedding ring... can I have some food? That does not apply to readers of this blog. If you think that there are items you would want to barter for in TEOTWAWKI, then bypass the barter and just get the items ahead of time. What you may need to barter with is for services. Skills you don't have, and likely can't learn in short order. A midwife, a surgeon, a dentist a veterinarian, a gunsmith, et cetera. You should have items you can barter with for these services if they won't take your services in return, and make sure that when these services are rendered, you take careful notes to learn as much as possible. Even better, ask if you, your wife or your child can apprentice with the service provider. Free labor in exchange for knowledge. In TEOTWAWKI, schools will not be available, but the apprenticeship will. In terms of services you can offer, rather than have 20 pairs of shoes, have a pair of shears and some rope and know where the local tire dump is and then you can have shoes to barter with all day long. Use your barter goods sparingly and and use your barter services whenever possible.

One exception to foregoing are items like a small flock of good egg laying and meat producing chickens as these are renewable goods. - SF in Hawaii

The comments in today's SurvivalBlog concerning my 'Enlightened Survivalism' article that was posted on the Energy Bulletin that 'this more likely qualifies as preaching to the choir' is exactly why the article was not sent to yourself for posting on SurvivalBlog. I tried 'preaching to the choir' as you put it with my post to you 'Considerations for Longer Term Survival' that you posted on Wednesday, December 21, 2005.
It would seem that many have still not really got to grips with its contents particularly: 'What about food when the "Year's Food Supply" is gone? What about your water supply?'.
It is now nearly a year since you posted that article and I have seen very little discussion concerning the longer term on SurvivalBlog.
We seem to be in state of denial with reality and expect things to get back to some semblance of normality after the chaos.
Many societies have collapsed in the past and those collapses are well documented, particularly by people like Jared Diamond with his two books, 'Guns, Germs and Steel' and 'Collapse: How Societies Choose to fail or Survive'. The problem is that the coming collapse may well be caused by the some or all of the causes that lead to previous societies collapsing, but
this time we will not have the planet's resources, particularly oil, to rebuild with. Our finite resources which are irreplaceable will have been expended.
We also live in world where our systems are now so complex that the slightest thing could bring it all tumbling down. Painter's 'The Collapse of Complex Societies' is worth a read on the subject of complexity.
I would agree that 'preaching' short term survival, for those who have not given 'survival' any thought before is very valid and that all people should
be able to look after themselves without reliance on authority for a short period of time. For those 'survivalists' that are already aware of the problems that are to come and are prepared in the short term for them then they must now start preparing themselves for the longer term and teaching those that follow.
I did debate sending you the article, which came about from posts 'Preparing for a Crash: Nuts and Bolts ' by Zachary Nowak. Which was responded to with 'Why the Survivalists Have Got It Wrong.' by Rob Hopkins. To which I responded with 'Major Problems of Surviving Peak Oil'.
After consideration I did not send you the article because I felt that it was not the sort of article that SurvivalBlog would, on the one hand, wish to publish and on the other I rather feel like I am hitting my head against a brick wall with trying to persuade people to consider a life after collapse without the infrastructure and systems that we have today.
A good quote to close is: 'To our grandfathers and grandchildren, the cave men.'
Regards, -Norman
P.S. Go on, read that last quote again

JWR Replies: Although the majority of SurvivalBlog readers are concerned with discrete events and short term infrastructure disruption, there are indeed a lot of readers that are actively preparing for long term and even multi-generational scenarios. In essence, there is the "buy six months of storage food and a backup generator" camp and the "build your own infrastructure and establish true self sufficiency" camp. I fall in the latter category. In my estimation, even if there is just the outside chance of a multi-generational whammy, I think that it is wise to prepare for it. It makes more sense to fence a garden and take the time to develop expertise in gardening rather than to just be dependent on storage food. Likewise, it is more logical to make your own power (e.g. photovoltaic, wind, microhydro, and on-site firewood, coal, and natural gas, or biogas production) rather than being dependent on fossil fuels produced hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Unless someone is a multi-millionaire and can afford to install propane tanks measuring in the thousands of gallons, it is absurd to think that a retreat can depend on outside fuel supplies and still have generator power ten years into TEOTWAWKI. (And even then, a stored resource that large would be an obvious target for anyone in a position of authority--whether legitimate or assumed--for "requisitioning.") I encourage SurvivalBlog readers to read Norman's various writings and think through the full implications of Peak Oil and potential climate change. My conclusion is that even though the timing of these predictions may be off by decades or even a century or more, it is prudent to become truly self-sufficient. In essence to be truly prepared you should be a producer rather than just a consumer. If not for ourselves, do so for the sake of your children and grandchildren, so that they won't someday be reduced to a troglodyte existence.

Tom at mentioned that has the entire text of the book on H5N1 by Dr. Greger, available for free download.

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White House Statement: Iran, Hezbollah Form 'Terror Nexus'

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Jason in North Idaho sent us this link: An M1A rifle goes ka-boom! Jason notes: "Since many of us shoot .308, I thought I'd forward this interesting story. Quite alarming!--the follow up analysis is very informative as well. A lesson to us all to maintain our weapons." JWR Adds: From the photos, it looks more like an obstructed bore to me. Perhaps the shooter didn't notice the quiet squib load report of the preceding shot.

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty." - John F. Kennedy

Sunday, November 12, 2006

When you write your obligatory Christmas card insert "brag letter" this year, please mention that you've been reading SurvivalBlog. And if you send an electronic version, it would be greatly appreciated if you'd include a SurvivalBlog link logo or link text. Every bit of publicity helps. (Our goal is to double the SurvivalBlog readership in the coming year.) Thanks!

Mr. Rawles,
I saw a mention on your site of the Dakota Alert system, and since I've been using one for about a year, I thought I'd sent you a few comments.

First, I had tried a previous Dakota Alert system, several years ago, and found it unreliable, then tried several others and also found them either too short ranged or unreliable. I have a 1500' driveway, about one half of which is blocked by a hill and trees.

I ran across the MURS system sold by a company in Canada, and didn't even know until I got it that is was a Dakota Alert brand, or I probably wouldn't have ordered it.

So far, the results of using it are mixed. I bought the two different type sensors, the PIR and the magnetic driveway probe. You can connect a total of 4 of either type to the system.

The driveway probe began giving trouble immediately. It would go off every minute, whether something was tripping it or not. I called Dakota Alert, and they sent me a replacement. It did the same thing !

I called and talked to one of their folks, who I 'assumed' knew their stuff, and he was puzzled....even though he could hear the "ALERT ZONE 1" going off in the background of my call each 60 seconds as we talked. I asked "What are the odds I would get TWO of these units bad ?" Uh, well, I don't know. I'll check into it."

So, they sent a THRID unit, and it DID THE SAME THING!

Guess what I finally figured out: I had a single bad battery in the [set of] 6 AAs, brand new out a package ( what are the odds of that ? ).....and when the voltage gets low, the unit starts this behavior to warn you the batteries need replacing--like the 'chirp' of a smoke detector.

What I found amazing was that Dakota Alert apparently doesn't know that!

So, my magnetic driveway probe works just fine....100% reliable and the batteries do last about six months, at which time it will start the every 60 second alert mode to let you know to change them.

Now, the PIR unit is a different seems to be about 50% reliable. About half of the time, a car passing it will set it off, and the other half, it won't. I've tried changing the various settings for sensitivity on the unit, but it seems to make no difference. And this unit is actually closer to my house, about 400' and in line of sight, than the mag probe unit, which is at the far end of my drive and blocked by the hill and trees.

I'm going to keep the system, because having tried several others before, this is the best so far......but it's still a far cry from what I would call 99% reliable. - A.D. in Tennessee

Yesterday my wife went over to our new house that we're moving into. It has a gate and about 100 yards of driveway. She told me that while she was there a van full of strangers drove up through the gate and right up to the house. Several people then came out uninvited. It turns out that they were Jehovah's Witnesses. Now, I've got nothing against them but you don't drive up into another persons property unannounced, especially in numbers. I thought, if they we Mutant Zombie Bikers that's not a lot of time to get inside. I looked into tire spikes that roll out onto a road but they were $$$ ($300-$530). I figure a 4x4 with brown spray painted 6" nails driven into it at 1 1/2 inch intervals should do it. A 4x4 trench across the driveway by the gate would let me put the improvised tire popper nails up or nails down depending on my needs. This serves four purposes:
(1) Loud popping sounds from blown tires are a form of perimeter alarm
(2) Ditto for screaming sounds of a burglar stepping on one at night
(3) Depending on the length of the driveway, you get a few extra seconds to situate yourself in case of home/retreat invasion
(4) You get to have that 'Well what did you expect trespassing on my property' look when uninvited salesmen, process servers, or Jehovah's Witnesses want to make an unannounced visit and ask to use a phone to call a tow truck. - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: One word comes to mind: liability! In my opinion you should use tire spike trips only in an absolute worst case situation. (Total collapse/anarchy.) Even then, I'd worry about my friendly neighbors or their livestock accidentally encountering the spikes. But it might be prudent to buy the materials, just in case. (Namely, 2x6 boards, camouflaging paint in various flat earth tone colors, and 10 pounds of timber spikes. For the latter, I would recommend 6"or 7" long timber spikes, galvanized, with a square cross-section. These are typically made with a spiral twist. Steel belted radial tires are no match for these spikes!) OBTW, Be sure to pre-drill holes for the spikes so that the board isn't split to pieces when you drive the spikes through it.

My preferred plan for slowing down looters in vehicles is more low key and less likely to inspire a lawsuit: This works best in heavily wooded or very steep country where vehicles cannot avoid using a road: use a series of 1/2-inch diameter steel cables across your road, each secured with keyed-alike padlocks. In "peacetime" you can put up and lock just one of the cables, festooned with flagging tape, so that visitors don't accidentally run into it. The cables should be supplemented by a MURS intrusion detection system, pyrotechnic trip flares or chemical light stick trip flare actuator frames (using the latest generation ultra high intensity light sticks), as well as trip noisemakers. These can be made from tin cans (as described my novel "Patriots") and from the pull actuators New Years party streamer poppers. Use three or four of these pull string noisemakers in bundles on each trip wire. By placing the cables at roughly 50 foot intervals, the bad guys will have to stop several times to reduce each obstacle. This should give you plenty of warning time to man a defense and make it clear (ballistically) that the bad guys need to go find someplace else to loot. Unless they are suicidal, they will hear your gunfire and quickly depart in search of easier pickings.

As noted in the Gulching/Self-Sufficiency Forum at The Claire Files: All 180 VITA publications available free download! Be sure to bookmark this one!

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The final RWVA shoot scheduled for 2006 will be held in Grant's Pass, Oregon, on Dec. 9-10.

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Doug S. mentioned this article on Asian Avian Flu: Federal workers abroad urged to store 12 weeks of food and water


"The will to survive is not as important as the will to prevail . . . the answer to criminal aggression is retaliation." - The Late Col. Jeff Cooper, 1993.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Today (11/11) America remembers our veterans.

Wow! Our unique visits counter is about to surpass the 800,000 mark. (And a whopping 38.3 million page hits, but that is a far less important statistic.) Thanks for making SurvivalBlog such a great success! Please keep spreading the word.

We recently changed ISPs, so we will no longer be checking our old e-mail. But our more recently (and commonly) used "" e-mail address will still be checked at least twice a day. Please update your e-mail address book, accordingly. Thanks!

Speaking of communications, we just switched to "voice over IP" long distance telephone service here at the Rawles Ranch. This means that I have unlimited calling to hard wire phones in the continental U.S. as well as to Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and throughout the U.K. This will be a great relief to any of you were dreading the big phone bills associated with consulting calls. Henceforth, just let me know your phone number, and I will call you. (My consulting fee is still $100 USD per hour with payment in advance, but now, unless you live in Outer Mongolia you won't have to pay for the long distance calls.)

Today we present yet another article for Round 7 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Since there have been so many great entries in this round of the contest, I will also be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win Round 7, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 7 will end on November 30th. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Dear Jim:
The recent letter on barter goods caused me to sit down and organize my thoughts on the matter. Running a successful retail/wholesale operation, I can see some caveats and analysis that needs further exploration.
What's WRONG with Barter Goods
As has been well emphasized before - forget about barter goods until you are squared away for your own logistics. Beyond that, remember that barter goods are much inferior to money or cash in a functioning economy, with a good division of labor. If you need to sell them to raise cash, it will take some effort, and you can easily lose money - especially if you need to sell them fast. Barter goods tie up your cash, take up valuable storage space, and must be carefully stored so rust / staleness, etc., etc. don't degrade the value of your inventory. Obsolescence is a major factor to consider for any technology item. And how do you know exactly what will be valuable in the future?
So why go to the trouble of storing any barter goods at all?
Barter goods, if well preserved and in demand, will preserve your purchasing power from inflation - and it is very hard for the taxman to collect on barter transactions! But of course gold and silver would do just as well, probably better, in a hyperinflation, and are much easier to store, easier to sell, more liquid, etc., etc.
So barter goods are for a real TEOTWAWKI when the economy is not functioning - a catastrophic breakdown in the division of labor. Think about a rapid and uncontrolled decline from a Western industrialized economy, to a primitive Third World economy - but without the low-tech skills the Third World folks survive with.
Your money (even real gold money) can't buy much because there simply isn't a functioning market to spend the gold or paper money. The shortages and/or civil disorder is so bad that immediate survival is the overriding issue, and the viability of money to get goods is in question. If it isn't this bad, gold and silver is the way to go. If it ever gets this bad there will be a horrific loss of life as it is the efficiencies of the division of labor that keeps our interdependent and sophisticated economy wealthy and our population fed.
In this horrific situation, tangibles for barter rule because, "you can't eat gold". For example let's imagine Farmer John who won't sell you one of his pig's for those gold coins you have. Even if there is a local market accepting gold and silver, he doesn't want to take a dangerous trip to town and leave his property unprotected. Transportation, communications and security are all in horrendous shape.
But Farmer John will consider trading the pig for tangible stuff that solves a critical problem for him. Stuff he has trouble getting, lets hypothesize: fuel for the tractor, or bullets for his gun (or a gun for his grown kids that are now back on the farm and under-equipped). How awfully bad it has to get before barter goods trump gold and silver is a prime factor to consider in evaluating what will be valuable - the desperate situation dictates that hard core survival items will be in highest demand, consumables, especially. If you don't think it will get this bad, just store gold and junk silver. Best bet is some of both.
War and/or hyperinflation are the most common circumstances, historically, where things get this desperate, with the fiat money collapse destroying the division of labor. Unless we were "bombed back to the Stone Age" sooner or later a functioning economy would evolve again with real gold and silver money reestablished. But that would take time - after the worst of the population die-off had occurred, and some stability re-attained. In the interim, barter goods will give you purchasing power to buy consumables you run out of, stuff that breaks or wears out, items you didn't think ahead to store - or unforeseen needs, e.g., medical, new baby, new people at the farm, etc., etc.
Be be advised that when storing barter goods you are entering the realm of running a business. You had better be able to predict what will be valued by your local market when you need to barter - supply and demand. Otherwise you will be wasting money, time and storage space.
What problems will people need to solve? What will be in high demand and/or short supply?
1. We don't know for sure, so be careful. It bears repeating - don't worry about barter till you have your own supplies well stocked.
Don't commit more than a small percentage of your assets to barter goods. Concentrate on stuff you can probably use yourself, or would like an extra spare of. Predicting the future is a tough game - put the odds in your favor so that even if TEOTWAWKI doesn't happen on schedule you have stuff you can use, sooner or later, or at least hold it's value for resale. You can predict your own demand better than anyone else's, so fill that first.2. Consumables Rule - If they haven't gone bad. Obviously consumables are depleted much faster than durable goods wear out, so supply will be tighter. Durable goods are likely to be in much better supply. The ugly truth is that barter only comes into it's own in a really desperate situation with a significant decline in the population. So there would likely to be a lot of durable goods left behind by the deceased - and you don't want to compete with that supply.
So my first choice for barter items would always be consumables that you consider essential as your core logistics that you store anyway. Just store more than what you need for food, ammo, fuel, batteries, etc., etc. But this has a strict limit, as you must be very careful on the storage life, and your rotation, so you don't end up sitting on a wasting asset.
That said, the guy who has stored gas or diesel, treated for long term storage, will be sitting very pretty after all the untreated fuel has gone bad (unless TEOTWAWKI is an EMP strike and not many vehicles are running.)3. Back to basics. When things are desperate, the first rung of Maslow's hierarchy of needs will prevail - the basic physical needs: shelter, warmth, water, food, defense, medical needs, etc., etc. Comforts and luxuries are not as sure a bet. If the situation is good enough to worry about luxuries your gold and silver will probably do just fine - no need for barter goods. Addictive substances such as cigarettes and alcohol are comforts that might be an exception to this rule (not that I would want to supply those items, however lucrative).4. Items that are less needed or uncommon in peaceful times, but sorely needed in TEOTWAWKI times will be good candidates because, even if they are not consumable, demand will outstrip supply. Best bets would be durable items where long term storage is not so much of an issue, e.g., work gloves, water filtration, defensive firearms and accessories, perimeter security, Body Armor, etc., etc.5. Stick to items that are good for a wide range of scenarios. Nuk-Alerts, radiation meters, etc., etc. wouldn't be "as good as gold" in a nuclear scenario - they'd be "better than platinum"! But they would have relatively low demand in other scenarios. Essential for yourself, but not a good barter bet. Stick to general use items.6. KISS. Don't got too complicated. High tech will degrade rapidly - stick with what is simple and easy to keep working.7. Keep it local - look at what your neighbors will need in your neighborhood, your climate, your situation. You won't want to travel far to trade, even if you can. For example propane conversion kits for gas generators would be a superb item out in the country with a lot of propane tanks about. But what if the only customers nearby only have a model that you don't have the right kit for? Travel would not be worth the risk. On the other hand, non-hybrid garden seeds that are optimal for your climate, and hardier than standard factory crops would be ideal.
8. Keep most items reasonably small and easily divisible. .22 Long Rifle ammo will be the "nickels and dimes" of post-TEOTWAWKI barter. Be able to "make change", or you might have to settle for a bad deal.9. Lower your risk by buying low. If it's an super deal it's hard to go wrong - but you must know the ins and outs of what you are buying, and the market pricing. Stick with what you know.
Some ideas: garage sales, auctions, eBay and (Craigslist is the free, online local classifieds.) [JWR Adds: I also like Craigslist, but I also highly recommend If you watch the daily local freecycle ads closely, you can pick up lots of useful, barterable items, free for the taking. Often someone is moving and they list their excess household goods on freecycle. Check it out, you'll find lots of great stuff free. Since both "available:" and "wants" are listed, you will also see some opportunities to dispense charity to folks that are presently needy.]
Garage sales are generally the lowest cost supply - but hit or miss on useful items. If you're in or near a large city, crisis is the way to go, after garage sales. They are hoplophobes who won't accept ads for any kind of weapon, but their free, online classifieds is fast replacing the newspaper classifieds section in our metro area. It let's you deal consumer to consumer, cutting out the middleman.
By the way, Craigslist is also a great place to turn your unused items into cash. The eBay auctions are good for specialized items without a big local market, for weapons, but craigslist for everything else. A digital camera photo, a good description, and you are in business, cheap. You can actually buy furniture, cheap at garage sales, and resell on craigslist and make money - if you know your product.
Some of my favorite barter items:
Ammo: Common calibers that you can always use yourself. Consumable, easily divisible, in high demand, long storage life. And if TEOTWAWKI doesn't\ happen on schedule, you can have fun "rotating your storage" ;-) A lot of folks have guns, but not very many have enough of the right ammo, so think self defense first, then hunting and practice rounds. (A lot of folks will be smart enough to figure out that a gun and 100 rounds of practice, is better defense than a gun and 200 unfired rounds.) Cheap food that stores well long term, e.g., wheat properly packaged. I like cans over mylar for durability, but you won't want to trade a gallon can that looks like you have a bunch of stored food. Repackage into plastic before trading ."Tactical Kits" For the folks that don't have suitable defensive firearms a complete kit of an easy to operate rifle, spare mags, ammo, web belt, mag pouches, sidearm, holster, and even Body Armor, could have a value greater than the sum of the parts. The bonus here is that you can have spares for your weapons, and also be stocked to equip your Neighborhood Watch on Steroids, refugees that you take in, or long lost relatives that show up after The Crunch. Batteries and Solar Powered Chargers - obviously a great consumable, and solar powered chargers will be better than gold when there is no electricity. Check storage life for batteries and the number of recharges possible very carefully on batteries. From what I have read NiMH battery technology is the way to go - any battery experts out there? Work gloves become consumables when used constantly.If other folks can suggest items that fit the criteria, please, let's hear them! The above list is just a start. Regards, - OSOM "Out of Sight, Out of Mind"

The second Medal of Honor has been awarded for heroism in Iraq.

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Rourke (editor of the Jericho Discussion Group) mentioned this article: Jericho, the most heavily "streamed" TV series on Innnertube, will sadly be "split" into two half seasons, to avoid repeat episodes. (The first eight episodes, BTW, are available for free download.)

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'Aliens could attack at any time' warns former British MoD chief Nick Pope


"This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave." - Elmer Davis

Friday, November 10, 2006

Fall, in all its glory, has come to the upper latitudes of the northern hemisphere. Here at the Rawles Ranch, the aspen and tamarack trees recently took on a brilliant golden hue. With last week's storm, the aspens shed all of their foliage, but the tamaracks still look resplendent. This is my favorite time of year. I love feeling the crisp air, the smell of wood smoke, the pleasant sights of venison hanging and cordwood stacked, and the taste of freshly made applesauce. All is well here. We are nearly ready for winter.

The high bid is still at $100 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction, It is for a scarce autographed first edition copy of the book Survival Guns by Mel Tappan. The auction ends on November 15th. Please submit your bid via e-mail.

Today we present another article for Round 7 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Since there have been so many great entries in this round of the contest, I will also be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win Round 7, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 7 will end on November 30th. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Most of the people of the world and especially Americans are urban dwellers. We commute to an office every day and sit at a desk. Just as the skills needed to do this don't prepare us for a shortage of water or food, they don't prepare us to evacuate on foot or run from danger. But unlike other parts of preparedness, they actually work against us in a future survival situation.
When I was a freshman in college I was returning to school in Oklahoma with a friend. About three miles outside a little town in the middle of no where, my check engine light came on the car quickly stopped running. It wasn't going to start again because the engine was frozen solid and would have to be replaced.
Here we were stranded in the middle of nowhere. This was in the age before cell phones and we couldn't call for help. My friend said "We're only three miles out of town. I'll just jog there and get help." I thought he was crazy, but that's just what he did and returned with a tow truck in under an hour.
You can see how easily this type of situation could happen. And the only thing you need to have to overcome it is the ability to jog, or walk, a few miles.
What if there is a chemical spill in your town and your car won't start. How are you going to get out of the danger area? Walk, jog, run. Aerobic/Cardiovascular fitness isn't the only type of fitness. How much weight can you lift? Can you lift it without hurting yourself? Could you pick up your unconscious child or spouse and carry them out of a burning building? Your in a storm and a roof falls on you. Can you bench press a fallen joist off yourself?
In my opinion, these are the things you need to be able to do at any time:
- Run full out for 200 yards
- Jog for two miles, preferably over uneven terrain
- Walk for 20 miles in a day
- Hike, with a pack, for half that, 10 miles a day.
- Swim for 300 meters
- You need to be able to lift 25% of your body weight over your head
- You need to be able to squat half your body weight.
This isn't as hard as it sounds. When I turned 40 a couple of years ago I realized I needed to get into shape. I had never in my entire life ran more than 1/2 a mile. My birthday is in January. In May I ran my first 5K and in July of that same year I ran a sprint triathlon, 300 meter swim, 12 mile bike ride, 5K run. I wasn't fast but I finished, as a matter of fact I finished 298 out of 300 in the tri, but I did it and I was in good shape.
The biggest problem we have when we want to develop a skill is motivation. You are being called on to do something you don't have to do, but you need to do. The first thing you can do is set goals. There is the list above as a long term goal. Along the way it is good to have shorter term goals and events that will motivate you. For instance I found planning to run a race like a 5K at the end of a 9 week running program.
For the purposes of starting a running program, I'm going to recommend the same program I used's "The Couch to 5K
in 9 weeks". It is an easy program that only requires you to run for 20-to-30 minutes, three times a week.
Now for strength training. This is a little more complicated because it requires some equipment. The program I recommend is Body for Life. Buy the book, ISBN 0060193395, and avoid the supplement hype. It is a well balanced program that includes diet, weight training and cardiovascular training. You could use the above running program for the cardio portion or stick with Body for Life's High Intensity Training (HIT).
For the weight lifting part you've got a few options. You can join a gym which has the advantage of lots of different equipment and a social atmosphere that some people thrive in. It has the disadvantage you have an on going expense and have to go somewhere three days a week to workout. Another advantage in the overall program a gym brings is they probably
have a swimming pool and if you want to work toward your swimming goal, you'll need that.
Instead of a gym, you might just buy some simple equipment and work out at home. What my wife and I did was to buy a set of PowerBlocks, which are just fancy dumbbells, and simple weight bench. They take up less room that a rack of dumbbells or even plate weights. You can work nearly all of your muscles with just dumbbells.
No matter how you choose to integrate fitness training into your lifestyle and preparedness program it is a survival skill you'll benefit from even without a TEOTWAWKI situation. Physical fitness gives you more energy through out your day and lowers you risk for all kinds of diseases and injuries. So make a plan and start moving toward it today.

Mr. Rawles:
Thanks to Warhawke for his very well written article. There are two items conspicuous in their absence, tobacco and alcohol. I seem to remember reading somewhere, perhaps in the novel Lucifer's Hammer, that people will always want to smoke and drink no matter how bad things are. I am wondering if you and/or Warhawke have any thoughts? Would it be prudent to stock an occasional can of Plowboy tobacco and some of the little airline bottles of booze? I'm very Interested in your thoughts. - Carl In Wisconsin

Greetings and thanks for the great web site. In all this discussion of barter goods, I'm amazed that no one has focused on the two most obvious items to keep well-stocked: booze and
smokes! The Great Depression is the only national economic collapse and near-TEOTWAWKI situation that is still in the living memory of the nation, and we all know what happened then, right? The people who controlled the means of supply for beer and liquor made a killing, and everyone smoked like chimneys. So I don't see how it could hurt for the good survivalist to have, at a minimum, the equipment to make an operating still and maybe brewing equipment as well. The tools needed to do this fit hand-in-hand with other useful stuff too: sanitizing, bottling, etc. For smokes, a good supply of wrapping paper would be handy in a post-TEOTWAWKI world. I've read that in the dark Stalinist years of the Soviet Union, cigarettes and wrapping paper became so hard to find that the proletariat resorted to tearing out pages from their Russian Orthodox Bibles to wrap tobacco in. - Matt

JWR Replies: I'm a conservative Baptist, so needless to say, I don't plan to stock either booze or cigarettes for barter. As I mentioned in the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, if I were to stock any sort of liquor, it would probably be 190 proof Everclear, which can be used for medicinal purposes, can be burned in lamps and some stoves, and can be used to fuel wick-type cigarette lighters such as the legendary Zippo.

Bad news for American ex-pats in Nicaragua? "Former Communist" Daniel Ortega won the Nicaraguan election. Ortega says he wants an end to "savage capitalism".

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The folks at Ready Made Resources mentioned that they only have a few pair of AN/TA-1042 field telephones left in stock. They are late issue full duplex digital field phones.They even come with a trickle charging photovoltaic panel. I highly recommend these field phones for coordinating retreat security.

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John the Bowhunter recommended both our Quote of the Day and this article: Veteran CIA hand is choice for Secretary of Defense.

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Hi-Yo Silver! Silver touched $13 per ounce in after hours trading last night. I'm standing by my predictions.


"I have benefited greatly from criticism," he said, borrowing a line from Winston Churchill, "and at no time have I suffered a lack thereof." - Departing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

Thursday, November 9, 2006

I am now back at the Rawles Ranch, after some travel on behalf of two consulting clients. I have resumed taking mail orders. I also now have some time for some consulting via telephone. Since we now have Vonage (voice over IP telephone service), I pay for the phone bills for consulting calls for most of my U.S., Canadian, and European clients.

The .40 S&W is proving to be an effective caliber in law enforcement usage, thus its continued popularity in that venue. It is becoming commonplace everywhere, and finding ammo at decent pricing is not an issue. Further, reloading for this caliber is as simple as any straight walled pistol cartridge.
.357 SIG is somewhat of a different animal. Some law enforcement agencies have adopted it, but it hasn't seen widespread adoption like the .40 S&W has. Supposedly at least one agency adopted it because it was more effective at penetrating cars, but it didn't seem to do any better/worse than .40 S&W (165gr Speer Gold Dots, to be specific) when we tested it on a junker car at the range. Also, .357 SIG has some negatives. 1.) Pricing is steep, nobody is making this ammo in bulk like you can find 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. 2.) Wear and tear on firearms chambered in this caliber has proven to be worse than other chamberings due to the higher pressures/velocities associated with the caliber. This may be even more problematic in a gun you convert, as the gun might also benefit from a stronger recoil spring. 3.) Reloading .357 SIG is a bit more involved than other pistol cartridges due to the bottleneck of the case. Bullet selection, case resizing, bell, and crimp are all critical with this caliber and less forgiving of variances. 4.) Muzzle flash/blast from this round is exceptional. With most factory ammo you can easily discern the muzzle flash under well lit conditions. I can only imagine how bad this would be in a low-light environment. (I haven't had opportunity to run any full house .357 SIG in a dark shoot house yet. It ought to be instructional when I do.) It is much louder than 9mm, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP. Being near somebody shooting .357 SIG for any length of time, no matter what sort of hearing protection employed, is tiring.
That said, .357 SIG does have some interesting aspects to it. If you look at bullet drop tables, the round shoots exceptionally flat out to 50 yards. Most loads drop between .5" and .75" from 0 to 50 yards in this caliber. Defensive loads in 125 grain bullet weights run about 1350 fps out of a 4" barrel, which is fast for a pistol round. It has a reputation for being exceptionally accurate, as well, although this is typically not a major concern for most defensive pistols. Lastly, if you are a reloader, there are some interesting things you can do with this cartridge and very light bullets. 90 grain projectiles can be driven at 1700+ fps out of a standard 4" pistol barrel. [JWR Adds: Be sure to follow published loading data closely!]
I'd say that .357 SIG is a fun caliber to play with and there is certainly potential in it. That said, I wouldn't rely on it as a primary caliber, simply due to ammo availability and cost, if nothing else. - JCL


I've been avoiding Smith and Wesson like the plague since their agreement with the Clinton administration's Justice Department to track all Smith and Wesson buyers, with one exception that is - the 40 S&W. I don't own any S&W firearms, but the 40 S&W caliber is a very good one. It is the perfect "intermediate" cartridge between the 9mm and .45 ACP. I would guide anyone inquiring about the 357 SIG to avoid this as a primary defensive round. There are two reasons; one is availability as you mentioned, and second is that it is still a 9mm round. From some reports I have read the real world performance has been somewhat less than desired, due in some part to the fact that the .357 Magnum to which it is often compared sometimes uses semi-jacketed hollow points, and the 357 SIG uses fully jacketed 9mm bullets. I think the .357 SIG will end up much like the .38 Super--with a very loyal but small following. The same can be said of the 45 GAP, for people with small hands there might be some reason for this round to exist, but mostly it's just to put the Glock name on a cartridge. The .40 S&W offers a lot to those seeking a defensive round, from very lightweight bullets all the way up to 200 grains. There is even an available loading using Ramshot Enforcer that is stated to propel a 165 grain bullet to 1,322 FPS and that is excellent performance by anyone's standards. Note that I have yet to test such a loading myself, as it require a lot of powder and I find more traditional loadings to be perfectly adequate. A Glock 22 has a lot going for it, it's a great caliber, it is as reliable as anything this side of a baseball bat, magazines are downright inexpensive and since so many law enforcement agencies use the 40 S&W, once fired brass is very cheap. A CZ-75B in .40 S&W would be a very good choice as well. - A. Friendly

Reader S.H. mentioned a web site that shows tandem rain catchment barrels. S.H. says: "A great idea to supplement your survival water supplies, and nice for general gardening use too. (The pictures make the setup very clear.)"

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“If I can get an elephant led by a mariachi band into this country, I think Osama bin Laden could get across with all the weapons of mass destruction he could get into this country,” Bhakta said.

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Readers Gredd, Rourke, and Alfie Omega all mentioned this article from Energy Bulletin: Enlightened Survivalism. Alfie asked: "Is the connotation of "Survivalist" changing for the better?" My answer: Perhaps. But consider the fact that the author of the Energy Bulletin article is a SurvivalBlog subscriber. This more likely qualifies as preaching to the choir.


"Lunches don't get free just because you don't see the prices on the menu. And economists don't get popular by reminding people of that." - Thomas Sowell

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Today we present another article for Round 7 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Since there have been so many great entries in this round of the contest, I will also be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win Round 7, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 7 will end on November 30th. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Since the mid-1960s, after reading Pat Frank’s novel Alas Babylon, I have been interested in preparing myself for TEOTWAWKI. And, as a child of the 1950s growing up in central Florida, I was taught early to be ready in case of nuclear war, so Frank’s book was not that far-fetched to me.
My family was poor by any standard you could compare it to in those days. There was no chance of us ever affording a “bomb shelter” but preparations were made as best we could. We stocked up on canned food and water, we had a central hallway with a fuel oil heater and a bathroom immediately off of it, and we put together a first aid kit and some other emergency supplies in a feeble effort to be ready. Since we were not in a blast zone, we felt like we had a chance for survival.
As a teen I began to use Alas Babylon as a teaching tool just as I am using "Patriots" today. I studied each scenario in that book to glean whatever tidbit of knowledge about surviving that I could. By the time I was ready to move out on my own I had amassed quite a stock of not only what I needed to survive, but a large supply of barter goods as well. I had first aid supplies, water purification tabs, a nice collection of knives, guns, and ammunition, and a number of items that Frank’s novel pointed out would be in short supply post disaster. Things like coffee, salt, and batteries were all part of my emergency supplies.
When I turned 18 I joined the Army and volunteered for Special Forces just so I could be even better prepared. I survived Special Forces training, Jump School, Ranger School, Officer’s Candidate School, and Vietnam. I found out that the Army is very good at losing things and sometimes the soldiers would find them (and most were willing to trade for what they found). Needless to say, my survival supplies increased greatly while I was in the Army. Not only could I trade for many items, but my income was greater then than I had ever known and I could buy many things I had been doing without before when it came to my survival stockpile.
Even with my steady income there just wasn’t enough to sink a great deal of money into survival – after all, I only made $98.00 per month when I went into the army in the late 1960s. As soon as I got out of the military I got married, the babies soon followed, and there was always too much month at the end of the money. Things haven’t changed much except that the kid’s are grown, but they have given me some of the greatest grandkids any man could ever want (and some that give me a lot of gray hairs).
So here I sit, later in life, with the same desire to be prepared, but with a lot less energy than I used to have and a whole bunch of antiquated equipment. The K-rations and C-rations are all still edible (albeit a little “tinny” tasting) [JWR Adds: Ancient military rations may still be palatable, but their nutritive value is nil. Since they are now collectible (i'm not kidding!), you are far better off selling them on e-Bay to re-enactors, and then spending the proceeds on recent date of pack MREs or comparable civilian retort packaged foods] , the jungle rucksacks were never any good to start with (and they hurt even more now), the entrenching tools are still in great shape but haven’t gotten any lighter with age, and the ponchos are all cracked and dried but the poncho liners are still the best around.
Of course my income has slipped back into the poverty level once again so major investments are out of the question. And I’m married to a wonderful wife who understands nothing about survival (and doesn’t want to). She just keeps thinking all the equipment and supplies I collect are just stupid junk ((I bet she won’t be saying that later).
All that said to set up a situation pointing to the fact that I’m nowhere near prepared for the day TSHTF and don’t have the resources to get prepared quickly. So, what to do? Can you relate? Have you priced dehydrated food supplies? Guns and ammo? Even just first aid supplies can put a hurtin’ on your budget! Well, here’s what I’ve done and it’ll work for you, too.

Do Your Prior Planning

If you haven’t made a list of supplies – and this should be a total list of supplies, not just the ones you still need – get one made, copy one from the Internet or use one from FEMA or the Red Cross. Break it into manageable sections or categories. I use “kits” for my lists. There’s a “Water Kit” that lists all things pertaining to water; canteens, holders, cups, filters, spares, etc. There’s a Food Kit, Shelter Kit, Commo Kit, Light Kit, Knife Kit, Gun Kit, and the always needed Miscellaneous Kit. My Kits lists go on for over 20 pages, but when I have all of that equipment together and ready to go then I’ll know I’m almost prepared. Make you a list and make it complete.
Now do an inventory of all of the things you already have. You may be surprised at the number of things you can check off your list. If you are a hunter, no doubt you already have one or more hunting knives, you should have boots, and field clothing, you may have a small pack you use in the field and canteens or water bottles. You probably carry rope, maybe a compass, and you might carry a pack saw, hatchet, or machete to clear your fields of fire. And, you already have some items to add to your gun kit.
Are you a camper, backpacker, canoeist, boater, fisherman or outdoors type person? Then you’ve already got some preparedness equipment – mark it off the list. As you mark it off the list, put today’s date on it. That will at least give you a reference for how old something might be so you’ll know when you may need to replace it.
Obviously, you’re not going to put a date on every item. For instance, I wouldn’t put a date on my military compass w/tritium markings, but I would put a date on my inventory sheet just as a reference. Dating items becomes important when you have to rotate stock (canned foods) or replace outdated items (medications). These items not only need to have the date on the item, but each one should be dated on your inventory sheets, as well.

Looking for What You Need

Once you’ve done your inventory and compared it to your list, you can make your list of items still needed. Now’s when the fun starts – it’s time to start looking for the items you still need. I have spent countless hours on the Internet looking for distributors, comparing prices, doing Google searches, writing to chat groups looking for items or advice, and, yes, actually ordering many of the items I need. I know, JWR recommends we not order online using our credit cards because it puts us in somebody’s database, but by the time I got that advice it was way too late for me. I figure I’m already in so many databases they’ll be too confused to worry about me anyway. Besides, when you see the way I order (following) I’m not sure it’s going to trigger any red flags.
Please understand, the only times in my life I made any significant amounts of money were spent saving for the future times when I knew I wasn’t going to be making that much money. I’ve worked in the building trades most of my life and after working steady for several months came the inevitable lay-off at the end of the job. Then I’d spend several weeks, if not months, looking for another job (all the while using up the savings I put away while I was working). I gained a lot of valuable experience but never had the money to invest in survival preparedness.
Now, I’m steadily employed making just over minimum wage (I’m no longer physically able to work a 40 hour construction job), so I’m still not able to make the major purchases required to become fully prepared. Does that mean I won’t do anything about getting prepared? Not on your life!!! I make small purchases whenever I can (usually every couple of weeks) and if I need something more expensive, I save up for a month or so. I decided what was most important and started getting those things first and then moved on to others.

Set Priorities

With water as # 1 priority in a survival situation I decided to make it my # 1 priority in becoming prepared. I already had two military canteens from my previous prep but knew that there were none for my wife.
So I set out trying to find the best deal on military canteens (w/cups and covers) on the Internet. Turns out that I found the best deal on eBay and ordered 4 more (so I’d have a couple of extras). I’ve got less than $2.00 each, including shipping, in the sets (canteen, cup, & cover). Now that I can afford!!! Then I found a guy on eBay selling water in small pouches and offering FREE shipping. So I spent $10.00 and got 12 small pouches for my auto & office kits. A month later the same guy had a better deal for $20.00 (still with free shipping) so I ordered some more of the pouches. Now I have enough to put in all of my kits as needed.
A water filter is an expensive item to me. I researched the smaller filters and decided that since water is a necessity I wanted the best and would not buy some cheap imitation just to have a filter. I had to stop all of my smaller (survival) purchases for 2 months to buy a filter (and a spare cartridge) but now I have added that to my inventory. I then bought some water purification tabs to complete my water kits in all of my emergency kits. Obviously that’s not the only items in my water kits but this gives you some idea of how I went about completing my purchases.
My First Aid Kit was next, although I did make a few purchases toward getting what was necessary for my Food Kit, too. A friend gave me some MRE’s (military) for me to try. I thought these would be just what I needed for emergency rations, but I quickly learned that they are too heavy for a Bug out Bag (BoB) and not tasty enough (unless it’s a dire emergency) for long-term storage. I ordered a few (3-4) individual freeze-dried meals to see if we could tolerate those and we actually liked them. They are lighter and much better tasting than the MRE’s, but they do take a little longer to prepare. I also bought a few food bars and added them to our BoB’s in case we need something in a hurry. I’ll continue to add more food bars and freeze-dried meals as my budget allows, but I am trying now to finish up my first aid kits.
I first made my decisions on which kits I wanted to put together, i.e., BoB, Long Term, Truck Kit, Car Kit, Office Kit, etc. Then I had to determine what I wanted in each First Aid Kit. Again, it was the Internet searches that gave me my list and the research for the individual items I wanted. It was obvious from the start that the larger quantity of any item I could buy, the cheaper the price per item would be. After making my “still needed” list (as above) I started shopping for the needed items. First I did the Internet search, and then began to shop around locally. I found that the big box stores (Walmart, Costco, CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, etc.) had the best prices, but not all of the items I wanted. I began buying a few boxes of bandages and tape, then some antiseptics, tape, etc., until almost all items were purchased over about six weeks. I’m still looking for a couple of things in specific sizes, but with patience and perseverance, I’ll find them.

Saving For the More Expensive Items
One of the hardest things to do is control your spending when you are trying to save for a major purchase. When you always need things to add to your survival stores, it’s difficult not to buy when you know you have enough money for something. Self-discipline is required when you’re saving for something else – just as in life when the family needs a new car, or washing machine, or a water heater. The same holds true for survival supplies. I’m attempting to set aside money for a retreat purchase, yet I know there are still dozens of items I still need for completing my survival supply lists. You must decide what is most important and how you will go about making these decisions. Other major purchases may include battle rifles, pistols, shotguns, or stores of ammunition. Fortunately, ammo is one of those things you can buy a little at a time (just be sure to set your priorities as to which caliber to by first).
Food stocks are another costly expenditure. To get the best price food should be bought by the case or larger lots. My suggestion is to buy extra of the canned and dry goods you eat on a regular basis (be sure to date them) and rotate your stock as you use them. In this way you will have extra food building up in your pantry while you are saving for several cases of freeze-dried meals. In the mean time, buy some individual freeze-dried meals and food bars to stock your BoB and emergency kits. Some of the dry goods (rice, flour, instant potatoes, and even dry milk) are not that costly and could be bought by adding one large size container of each of these each time you go to the store. Soon you’ll have a fairly good sized supply of food.

In Conclusion

Get prepared – that is, make your lists, do your inventories, and know ahead of time what you need. Stay alert for sales and opportunities to purchase at reduced prices. And buy what you can when you can, save for the things you need, and no matter what you’re still missing when TSHTF you’ll be far better off than if you did nothing.
Don’t depend on Uncle Sam – he cannot and will not do it all. Don’t depend on friends and family – they all have their own to take care of. Stock up for yourself and be ready to share with those less fortunate and in need.

"I have never been taken with the idea of selling a gun. When you possess a firearm, you possess something of importance. If you trade it for cash, you have lost it - and the cash in your hand will soon be gone. Sell something else! - The Late Jeff Cooper, Jeff Cooper's Commentaries, June 11, 1993

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

As previously mentioned, we don't own a television here at the Rawles Ranch.We only watch "Elk-evision." I guess that if I ever set up my own web cam, it will be trained on the feeder that is positioned 25 yards away from our back porch. Although we set it up to attract non-game species, it also attracts a lot of deer and elk. From the same vantage point you can also see wildlife down at The Unnamed River (TUR), which is another 150 yards farther in the same direction. (It is about 200 feet short of our east property line, where the public land begins.)

I read with interest the UK government's interest in silver impregnated undergarments for their soldiers. I just ordered 10 pairs of the socks from REI. You can search for x-static which is a brand of silver impregnated material. Underwear is also available trade, name Medalist Silvermax Boxer Briefs. OBTW, I just found silver socks at The Sharper Image for less. They aren't liner socks but they look useful.
If we are going to be hiking for long periods without the ability to wash our clothes, this could be a real boon. Ask a Vietnam veteran about jungle rot if you want more details on what can happen to your feet if hygiene is not optimal. If a person gets a case of athlete's foot and there are no anti-fungal medications available, it will likely be a lifetime infection. - SF in Hawaii

Mr. Rawles:
My friends and I have been using the MURS band for some time. It generally has better range than FRS/GMRS and is much less crowded. There is an interesting product available that works with these radios as a sort of "perimeter alarm" system. The MURS Alert from Dakota Alert is a small, weatherproof box that combines a PIR motion detector with a 1-watt MURS transmitter and a voice module. It uses six size AA batteries and has an advertised six month battery life. The unit is placed near a road, driveway, trail, etc and set up. When a vehicle or person moves past it, the unit broadcasts a computerized voice that says "Alert: Zone One, Alert Zone One." The unit can be configured to broadcast four different alerts, and supports the five MURS channels and all PL tones. We have field tested it, using it to stake out the road about 1/2 mile from our camp site, and the system worked as advertised. I have also used it as a car alarm. You can place the MURS alert on your front seat, and carry a MURS-band walkie-talkie with you. If the car is broken into, you will get an alert and it is unlikely to be disabled before sending it. One caution: the plastic case can get deformed if you leave it in a very hot car in the summer.
The unit is marketed towards people in rural areas with long driveways, deer hunters who want to keep an eye on their trails, et cetera, but the [retreat] security applications are obvious. The only drawback I see is cost (around $100 for a single unit) and the fact that animals/etc may cause false alarms. Detection range is advertised as up to 80 feet, and I can verify that it does cover a standard two-lane road reasonably well. Regards, - Arclight


[I asked our advertiser, MURS Radios, if these motion detector were compatible with their MURS handheld transceivers, and the following was their reply;]

Yes,our $49 Kenwood MURS Radios are compatible with the MURS Alert systems. The MURS Alert can be set to any one of the five MURS frequencies and any one of the 38 CTCSS tones (they call them subchannels.) The radios I sell can be easily programmed by the user to match the settings on the MURS Alert and can be used as the receiver for these units. A nice feature of this system coupled with MURS transceivers is that you can have two-way comms and an alarm notification on the same radio and on the same working frequency.

Greetings James and Family,
I just wanted to interject a category of books that should also be included in any home library. The category of ‘make it yourself toys’. I know it sounds odd, however children reared in the earlier industrial era as well as pre-industrial eras learned how to make there own toys. Several years ago I attended a book sale at our local library. They were discarding ‘old’ books on toy making and other crafts among their other titles. These books were published in the 30s through the 50s and were considered ‘out of date’. I picked up on as many as I could find at the time and wished that there were more. The books had ways of making toys from wood and other ‘low tech’ materials, which was part of their era. One book I loved was on making wooden sail boats, at a kid’s level. If one were to take this a step further the skill of making simple, yet fun toys, would be a valuable skill during the long-term grid down situation. Face it, children need to be children. And play is a way to help them cope with a situation gone bad, as well as to occupy them while adults go about the daily chores. Granted they need to learn vital skills and time to play would, in all likelihood, be very limited. But during every pre-modern civilization, playtime for younger children was available, though it disappeared as they became older and could do work on farms, and so forth. If one considers the toy maker’s of folklore as well as real toy makers of old, the skills would help in barter societies. After all there would still be birthdays, Christmas and so on that are woven so much into our society’s structure. These are times when one digresses from the ‘woes of the world’ for a short time and gives a psychological respite. Every era has had toys, even if it was only simple wooden toys. Providing this skill and way of simple diversion for children as well as for adults would be a valuable contribution to the overall health of neighbors and friends. Also akin to this would be the skills for bicycle repair, especially since a bicycle is not only a toy but also a good method of human powered transportation. There was an old fellow in a nearby community, who repaired and rebuilt bicycles for the poorer children and gave the bicycles away to them. This elderly retired fellow became known for his skills and he had more people give him their disused bicycles and his skills breathed new life into them. It is this type of spirit that is the nature of the old-fashioned toy makers. And it is as a noble a skill as any. And will provide a much-needed release for children who will wind up growing up in a very changed world. And after all, what is more innocent than the local toy maker? - The Rabid One

Yesterday, I helped a consulting client unload his household goods from a 26 foot U-Haul moving van, in a driving rainstorm. He is a prepper that naturally has lots of heavy six gallon food storage buckets, copious field gear, a gun vault, and more than 100 ammo cans. Let's just suffice it to say that yesterday was a good day for practicing Christian patience and "building character."

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Michael Z. Williamson found this site for us: Wildwood Survival, noting that it has some useful information on outdoor survival and primitive skills

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The folks at The Pre-1899 Specialist tell us that their batch of 8 x 57 pre-1899 Turkish contract Oberndorf Mauser rifles is nearly sold out. If you want to buy one of two, then order them soon. This is by far the nicest batch of Turks that they've ever acquired. Since they were all made between 1894 and 1896, they are Federally exempt "antiques" --which means no paperwork required for delivery to most states. (They come right to your doorstep, with no pesky 4473 form required!)

"It is customary in democratic countries to deplore expenditures on armament as conflicting with the requirements of the social services. There is a tendency to forget that the most important social service that a government can do for its people is to keep them alive and free." - RAF Air Marshall Sir John Slessor

Monday, November 6, 2006

Today we present another article for Round 7 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Since there have been so many great entries in this round of the contest, I will also be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win Round 7, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 7 will end on November 30th. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

One of the problems with stored food is the inevitable deterioration of the vitamin content. You don't have to worry about the mineral content going anywhere but vitamins are notoriously fragile. While many have asked for the best kind of multi-vitamin supplement for long term storage, the answer for the survival community is simpler. Many of us have buckets of wheat stored. So make wheat sprouts and wheatgrass juice.
Vitamins increase substantially during the sprouting process. In regards to wheat, vitamin B-12 quadruples, other B vitamins increase from 3 to 12 times and the vitamin E content triples. Vitamins A, K and others also increase. Amino acid levels (the building blocks of proteins) similarly increase and fiber content increases three to four times that of whole wheat bread.
Dry seeds, grains, and legumes are rich in protein and complex carbohydrates but contain no vitamin C. Fortunately, the sprouting process creates 20 milligrams of Vitamin C per 3.5 ounces of wheat.
Sprouts can be eaten in as little as 48 hours after soaking (and rinsing). No light is required for the first few days and at this stage, they are more grain than vegetable. Over time (and with light) chlorophyll begins to form and they transition from grain to vegetable. Eating them takes a bit of getting used to. Young sprouts can be eaten whole and are very chewy, and sweet. No cooking needed. They are an excellent G.O.O.D. food for your survival pack. All you need is a glass mason jar and a mesh cap. Go to your local health food store and ask for the plastic ventilated tops that fit over mason jars for sprouting. If you want to decrease the weight, put them in a stocking or plastic paint strainer mesh (available at your hardware store) and then into a plastic wide mouth bottle. As you travel, the wheat will convert into chewy nutritious little snacks. In terms of travel, if you think that you will have access to water (hiking near a river or other other water source) but no cooking fuel (wintertime and it's wet) then this is an excellent option. They sprout while you hike. If a member of the party has dental problems, make a mortar and pestle from two rocks and crush the sprouts before eating them. Remember, we don't manufacture cellulose, the enzyme that other animals have to break down plant fiber. If you don't cook or juice your vegetable, you must chew (or crush) them to get anything out of them.
Here is a list of other seeds/grains/beans you can sprout as well as how to sprout in a jar.

If you have the time and inclination, you can go from the sprout stage to the grass stage. Again, this shifts the wheat from grain to vegetable. This will change the relative protein, carbohydrate and vitamin composition so I suggest you use your powers of observation. If you crave the sprouts at one growing stage versus another, honor it. It's your body telling you that given your current state of malnutrition, that stage of the sprout you are craving contains the maximum amount of what you need. Wheatgrass juice is a little sweet and many will get nauseous even if they drink only an ounce at a time. It is very potent stuff, but not dangerous.
Here is a link for sprouting to the grass stage including techniques to sprout without soil or trays (you can even use a baby blanket):
Be mindful that when going for the grass stage, hygiene is everything. You must start with clean grain or mold will grow on them.
Wheatgrass juice can be chewed but this is very labor intensive. Ann Wigmore who made wheatgrass juice famous ate grass from her lawn with her grandmother during the war in Germany and attributes it to her and her Grandmother not starving to death. I think that a wheatgrass juicer is a very sound investment, as important as any other in my survival kitchen. No, a regular juicer will not work. You will need a wheatgrass juicer. With it you can also juice other leafy greens if you like. Manual wheatgrass juicers are not overly expensive unless you want to go stainless steel but they all work pretty much the same way. [JWR Adds: Used wheatgrass juicers can sometimes be found on eBay for very reasonable prices.]
If you have wheat then you have bread and vegetables if you know how to juice. In the summer months, if you have grass growing nearby and it hasn't been sprayed with pesticides and other lawn chemicals you have a garden you may not have been aware of. While not all grasses are necessarily safe to eat, you can experiment with a drop at a time. As with all suspect plant life, first put a drop on your skin and see if it gets irritated over the next few hours. If that works, next put a drop under your tongue and spit it out. Was it bitter or soapy or was there a milky sap? (A survival botanist who wants to elucidate/correct this would be appreciated.) If not and if you feel okay after another few hours, next try to drink a drop. With some experimentation you may be able to determine if the grass varieties growing wild in your local meadow are safe for consumption.
While many other sprouts are also useful and certainly more tasty and easier to manage (mung, buckwheat, adzuki) wheat is something that anyone reading this blog is likely to have in abundance. You can, however, sprout any grain or bean too increase it's vitamin content. Also, sprouting does not mean you must eat it raw. You can sprout your beans and grains and then still cook with them. The chinese do this with mung beans in their cooking. You will lose some of the vitamin content by cooking them but you will still end up with a meal many times higher in vitamin content than otherwise. - SF in Hawaii

If food for long term storage is put in a plastic five gallon bucket with silica gel and a mylar bag, how much does it matter how humid the outside air is after it is completely packed? For instance, if the only place to store the food is in a shed outside will humidity in the air get into the bucket? How important is dry storage air to the time the food can be successfully stored.
Thanks, - C.N. in North Carolina

JWR Replies: Food grade plastic food storage buckets are designed to be air and moisture tight when properly sealed. Once sealed, they should not gain any moisture over time. As previously noted, in damp climates, it is best to do your food storage packaging during a dry month of the year. Be sure to enclose several oxygen absorbing packet and a silica gel desiccant packet. Inspect each lid's rubber gasket for softness and for any foreign matter before seating the lids. Use a rubber or leather mallet to seat them firmly. BTW, you will probably find that you'll need a "lid lifter" tool for when you eventually open your buckets. (These are sometimes called "bucket opening wrenches" by some vendors.) They are available from Ready Made Resources, Mountain Brook Foods, Nitro-Pak, and a variety of other Internet food storage vendors.

Mr R.:
To follow up on B.B.'s article, the following piece may be from Kurt Saxon, or another brilliant reality-based mind like that. I apologize in advance for not having ironclad attribution on this.
Awesome info in any case. The small stainless steel cookers/cups ( Thermos "Thermax" model ) will do the same thing on a smaller scale. Once again SurvivalBlog nails it with great information. - M.P.

First the thermos. There are three kinds but only one is practical. Forget the cheap, plastic ones lined with Styrofoam. These might cook oatmeal and white rice but do not have the heat holding power you need. Silvered glass thermoses are fine, but a bump will break them. Also, since you are going to do actual cooking and will use a fork to remove the contents, they will not hold up.
The only practical cooking thermos is the WIDE-MOUTH Aladdin Stanley. It is lined with stainless steel, is well insulated and will keep steaming hot for up to 24 hours and holds a quart. It is also unbreakable, with a lifetime warranty.
Most foods cook at 180 degrees or more. We are used to boiling, which is 212 degrees, and foods do cook faster, the higher the temperature. But if time is not important, cooking at a lower temperature is even better as most vitamins are not broken down. Thus, if you cook at a minimum heat, you save nutrition.
Then you need a heat source. If you are in a non-cooking room, buy a cheap, one burner hot plate from your local Wal-Mart, Target, Sears etc. You will need a one quart saucepan. You will also need a special funnel to quickly pour the pan's contents into the thermos, plus a spoon or fork to help the last of the food into the funnel. To make the funnel, cut off the bottom four inches from a gallon plastic milk or juice container.
The first step in thermos cookery is to fill the thermos with water up to the point reached by the stopper. Empty the water into the saucepan and make a scratch or other indelible mark at the water's surface inside the saucepan. This will allow you to put just enough water in the saucepan, as too much will leave food out and too little will give you less cooking water.
Just to test how the cooker works, start with four ounces of wheat. You do not need to buy 60 pounds. You can buy two pounds from your health food store for about $.80 This would give you eight meals at 10 cents each.
In the evening, put four ounces in your saucepan, plus a half-teaspoon of salt to prevent flatness, even if you intend to sweeten it. Fill to the mark with water. (If you have hot water, let the tap run until it is hottest. Tests have shown that less energy is used in using hot tap water than in boiling from cold.) Bring the contents to a rolling boil, stirring all the while. This will take from three to five minutes.
Then quickly, but carefully, swirl and pour the contents into the funnel and help any lagging matter from the pan to the funnel and into the thermos. Cap firmly but not tightly, shake and lay the thermos on its side, to keep the contents even.
Next morning open the thermos and pour its contents into the saucepan. With four ounces of dry wheat, you will now have at least 3/4 pound of cooked wheat and about a pint of vitamin and mineral enriched water. It has a pleasant taste. Drink it. You can now put milk and sweetener on it or margarine, salt and pepper, etc. If you can eat the whole 3/4 of a pound, you will be surprised at how energetic you feel for the next several hours. An added bonus is its high fiber content.
For lunch, prepare a few ounces of hamburger or other meat chopped finely, plus chopped potatoes and other vegetables the night before. After breakfast, put these and the right amount of water in the saucepan and prepare as usual. At lunchtime you will have a quart of really delicious stew. Since nothing leaves the thermos in cooking, as contrasted to the flavor leaving stew cooking on the stove, you can understand the better tasting, higher vitamin content of thermos stew.
The brown rice dishes could also be either a main course or desert. Brown rice has a much greater swelling factor than wheat so four ounces of rice will pretty much fill the thermos. You can put vegetables and meat in it to cook or try a favorite of mine. It is four ounces of brown rice, 9 cents; one ounce of powdered milk, 10 cents in a large box; two ounces of raisins, 22 cents; one teaspoon of salt; some cinnamon and four saccharine tablets. Cook overnight. This is 46 cents for 1 1/2 pounds of desert.

#1 Son Comments: The USDA seems to have given up on a mandatory NAIS. In their new Implementation Plan they say that they will rely on "market forces" to get full registration. I really doubt that they actually mean any of it, and their lawyers have just come up with some great weasel words. Or maybe the "market forces" will be states that want their subsidies back.

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Reader Jeremy I. sent us this link: Can the U.S. Economy Survive a Housing Bubble Bust?


"Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall, when the wise are banished from the public councils, because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded, because they flatter the people, in order to betray them." - Justice Joseph Story (1779-1845) US Supreme Court Justice

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Today we present another article submitted for Round 7 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Since there have been so many great entries in this round of the contest, I will also be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win Round 7, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 7 will end on November 30th. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

This is in response to this article you posted a link to The Fed and Baby Boomers. The Federal Reserve is trying its best to solve the incoming budget crisis as the baby boomers near retirement age. Soon a relatively low number of workers will be paying taxes to support a high number of retirees. Really unsustainable numbers are involved. So how do you solve it? Well, either you tell yourself that the youth will pay for it because they have no choice (which would be a bad assumption), or you find a way to make the money paid to be too less valuable than it appears, but deniably so. Like the 1980s, its all about plausible deniability. Evidence of government sponsored inflation? Why yes! I do have some.

1) The Fed stopped reporting M3 on March 15th [of 2006]. This (M3) is the amount of money in circulation, including printed currency and electronic money. There is an actual total. And until March 15th of 2006, they reported this amount every quarter. Now they don't. How much money is there? Good question. Only The Fed knows.

2) Disengage economic ties to debtor and lender nations. The USA used to be a lender nation, but things reversed after 9/11 to pay for the war. The Chinese are devaluating the dollar, which has caused a worldwide devaluation of our currency, though not as much as you'd think. Some folks think that the reason the dollar hasn't crashed is because OPEC buys and sells oil using Dollars, the currency is basically backed by Oil so the world can't afford to dump dollars without dire economic consequences. If oil starts trading in Euros or Yuan, then that's another story.

3) Logical reasoning. If the government generates inflation, goods cost more. If they also stop counting the costs of those goods in inflation calculations, as Clinton ordered back when he was still in office, then there's no reason for a CPI Cost of Living Adjustment to Social Security payments. If you don't increase the payments, you're paying less all the time to these retirees. You're also paying lower wages to US workers, so raises are paper-only, and usually fall behind inflation. Retirees aren't stupid, but they currently lack the power and will to point this out legally. Workers are mostly naive and don't realize they're earning less every year. If they did, there would be dire consequences to the economy, so maybe they're on-board with making the poorer boomers much poorer in retirement in order to remove some of the tax burden from their kids, Gen Y and Gen X. If the government were honest about the cost of Social Security, which it tried for more than 15 years now, it would be fired for incompetence. Like Bush Sr and Clinton were, and "W" will be.

Inflation solves the problems of debt because fixed rate loans devaluate and ARMs inflate a little less than they would if the truth were known. It also is an acceptable way to deal with the housing bubble. Instead of a home taking a huge dive in paper value, it takes a small drop and still says it costs $425,000 or whatever instead of $500,000. The fact that that money is now worth 60% of its prior value so its only really worth $290,000 now is more palatable if the public and the government continue to pretend that inflation is still 2.6% instead of its real current rate of around 10%. Don't believe me? Check your receipts for food from a year ago. Most banks have electronic records of ATM payments, and paper checks get sent back to you. Look at your records. Look what you paid then, and what you pay now. Its gone up at least 10%. And then there's fuel. Even with the dip, its still way more than you paid a year ago. Its like 1979 all over again. And Yes, I'm old enough to remember inflation then.

The big downside for the government is that inflation destroys savings for the few people (like me) who have them. It also destroys investment and retirement funds, if they don't earn faster than inflation destroys, and few legitimate funds do. Why allow that? Isn't it making the rich poorer? Well, better poorer than dead, as a fast and well reported collapse would cause civil uprising. Besides, the rich can invest in EU funds and move their money to less destructible and inflation affected properties.

At this point, the government seems to be actively working to make the rich richer and the poor poorer and the middle class poor. All that separates the middle class from the poor are good neighborhoods in the suburbs, better morals (in many cases, not all), and savings for emergencies. With inflation those savings go away, the ARMs take the house, and peak oil makes the suburbs more expensive to travel to and from work in the cities so the cost of living is even higher than the poor ghettos near the city center. A housing inversion is coming, oddly enough, as the wealthier middle class sell their homes in the burbs and move to smaller and recently cleaned up neighborhoods near public transit in the city hubs. ("Location, location, location" has long been the watchword of real estate.)

That's even more true in Peak Oil, which overthrows 100 years of development truisms. The urban poor either sell for a profit, get driven out by ARM adjustments and financial collapse, or take the offer and move to the burbs, which will soon be the bad neighborhoods of the near future (3-6 years, starting with oil hitting $130+/bbl.) The suburban lower middle class will either watch their neighborhoods get worse or move somewhere cheaper, possibly rural, possibly urban in the less well converted neighborhoods. It will soon become hard to be middle class, very hard. Watch the markets closely and keep your eyes open for those real estate signs. If the new people moving in bring crime with them and housing values drop, thus dropping taxes and budgets, how much crime prevention can your town pay for? If your quiet suburban neighborhood starts to turn into The Hood (like Los Angeles), consider moving out.

One thing is certain: everybody will suffer in the coming economic collapse. Its a matter of degree and how able you are to react to the situation, and how well you can weather it financially and physically. It is possible that the burbs will resemble Argentina in 10 years. Or maybe the transition will be slower and streetcars will remove the downsides of the burbs so the housing inversion is to the exurbs instead. If you live near a rural exurb, expect real trouble there as the price of gasoline passes $4/gallon Its only $2.50 now but time wounds all heels.

Lake Inversion: what happens to a lake after a significant temperature drop. Warmer water rises to meet the cold air, stirring up the lake bottom mud. This usually signals the end of fishing season.

Housing Inversion: what happens when previously impoverished real estate becomes valuable due to proximity to mass transit and city hubs following the Peak Oil price spike phenomenon. Poor people suddenly can't afford to stay close to the city and find themselves living where land is cheap, often places with very expensive transit costs. - InyoKern

Ponchos and capes have been popular for centuries and for good reason. During the day they can be worn to protect you from the elements and at night, they double as blankets. Unlike cotton, wool retains it's insulative qualities even when wet. Good quality wool capes can be found on sites that make items for renaissance fairs or you can make one yourself from an old wool army blanket or two. If you use a wool cape as your travel jacket, you will always have the basis of a shelter wherever you go. (Another advantage is that it also allows you to draw your weapon unnoticed.) One winter night in upstate New York when my car was out of commission I attempted to walk home. It was too far and instead I curled up in the woods on the ground in my wool lined trench coat. It was warm and I slept well. A friend of mine has lead shot sown into the two front bottom corners of his cape. Swing it into someone's head and lights out. As a flexible weapon, it can't be easily blocked as it will continue it's arc around an outstretched arm. Who would expect to get knocked out by a cape??? Sewing valuables into clothing is common for refugees that may have to turn out their pockets at checkpoints and to highwaymen. I'd say that about 14 American Eagles or Krugerrands in each corner should do the trick. A cape can also be thrown over an attacker to temporarily disorient them or used to deflect an edged weapon.
Here's another trick. If you do find yourself out in the cold in a urban/suburban environment with minimum shelter for the night, try stuffing newspaper (crushed into balls not as sheets) in your pants and jacket. I learned this trick from a hobo. (Hobos are excellent sources of survival information). On another poorly calculated winter night, the newspaper trick saved me from possibly freezing to death.
You may also want to look at the German military sleeping bag that converts into a jacket. These are still available if you look around. - SF in Hawaii

"We ran into a pleasant interlude up in Vermont which emphasized the wisdom and social utility of the Vermont firearms laws. It seems that some foreigner from down below was in a supermarket when he observed one of the customers wearing a pistol openly. He got all flustered and immediately called 911. In due course a cop showed up and located the complainer, who pointed out the "culprit." The cop agreed that the man really was carrying a pistol, and then he asked what the problem was. I suppose the poor fellow rushed off out the door and went back where he came from. Obviously the state of Vermont was too dangerous for him. - The Late Jeff Cooper, Jeff Cooper's Commentaries, Vol. 6, No. 3, March 1998

Saturday, November 4, 2006

My sincere thanks to the just 1/2 of 1% of SurvivalBlog readers that have signed up for 10 Cent Challenge subscriptions. You know who you are. Subscriptions are entirely voluntary, and gratefully accepted.

Dear Jim,
I've been following the investing threads and would like to weigh in. The first item is to consider what emergency your investments are for. A collapse of order or society could make ammunition and other tangible hard goods very valuable. Conversely, an economic collapse could predate that by years (see Germany during the Depression), in which case freehold real estate and bullion are much more useful. Some people are stating that "X will be worthless," but that all depends on the scenario. To assume that one and only one disaster will happen, and will happen within a set time frame, is taking a long bet. As you've pointed out, beans, bullets and band-aids first, because they are always useful in the present world, and can become more so under certain circumstances, then invest in additional goods (bullion, extra land) that can serve as a cushion against financial crises.
Another consideration: Even if one's society crashes totally into anarchy, it may not be the same worldwide. A border guard is not likely to be persuaded by a pack of ammo, while an ounce of Swiss gold or similar goods is a much more persuasive argument.
Something to consider is public perception. Before Y2K, I dissuaded a friend of mine from buying gems for trade goods. Who but a professional jeweler can tell the value, and what is their marketability? It comes down to being an unmounted pretty rock, in a potential situation where engagement and wedding rings will be common low-end barter goods. Nor do stones generally keep their value.
However, I am willing to bet and go on record that if a disaster destroys our society (as opposed to a political or economic failure), most people will take good old greenbacks. If the government isn't printing more, that will just increase the value, since they won't be inflatable. The US Dollar is a fiat currency, but it's been so for a long time. People take it because they see it as "money." The finer points of economics, market value and such are lost on 9 out of 10. Don't believe me? Try buying gas with silver coins tomorrow. Even though the silver is certainly worth more, most clerks won't take it for more than face price (Assuming pre-1965 US coins). I don't believe there are any non-fiat currencies in the world anymore, and a great many people have an unhealthy distrust of any non-cash transaction (Or even of cash transactions above a few dollars. Offer cash for a car or even a generator and see what looks you get).
I suspect that a realistic scenario will involve hard valuables (bullion, land and cars) being sold to keep those with foresight solvent (sold for currency in increasing amounts, since that's what businesses will insist on). If recovery isn't immediate, a bullion and barter economy will develop to replace the worthless cash once everyone is made aware of the fact, and if trouble persists, hard to replace goods like ammo and coffee will be much in demand. For a more immediate issue such as enemy attack or natural disasters on a major scale (say Yellowstone erupts, or a large meteorite strike), cash will be the exchange medium of choice, with banks down and government distribution a problem.
Of course, in such a scenario, the idea would be to spend the cash fast for goods and services you need, if it looks like a recovering government will "solve" the problem by printing a bunch more, writing off debts and creating a false surplus that will destroy the value of said currency. - Michael Z. Williamson

I was browsing thru one of the much-visited "preparedness" newsgroups, and saw a link to the Tiny Homes web site. Needless to say, I am unable to personally buy into that sort of thing, however, but perhaps you and/or a great-many people who read the/your blog may find some use from that site. Cabins as small as 10 x 12 foot, easily (diesel-powered pickup of medium to upper sizes) towable, wired, etc., etc.,.... think of the possibilities. - Ben

JWR Replies: Being a well prepared individual is unfortunately synonymous with a lot of logistics. Just ask any for the SurvivalBlog readers that have moved recently. All of that stuff takes space. But if you have secure, vermin proof, adjunct storage space--such as CONEX--then the Tiny Homes concept might be practical for a retreat in a safe (presumably "looter free") area. .


I've been a member of a survival retreat group for about a year. A member told me to contact you. I am finally going to purchase a rifle (not for hunting). I read where the [U.S.] military is really unhappy with the 5.56 and the possibility of changing to the 6.8mm Remington. I like the idea of something larger than the 5.56mm and smaller than the 7.62mm. Is it possible the military will make this change and how soon? I am only going to buy one rifle. What are the disadvantages of buying the 6.8mm? Sincerely, - R.S.

JWR Replies: If the economy were to hold together, and if the new 6.8mm round were to eventually gain long term civilian market popularity, then it someday might be a viable option. Otherwise, no, I do not recommend it, since supporting your firearms battery logistics could be troublesome at best, or perhaps even a complete "show stopper" in a worst case. If you have huge budget, you might want to buy both 5.56mm and 6.8mm upper receiver/barrel assemblies to mate with your AR lower and several thousand rounds of each type of ammo. Otherwise, I would skip the small calibers all together and get a battle rifle that is chambered in a real sure stopping and versatile caliber: .308 Winchester. (Parenthetically, I'm amazed how many letters I get from readers who say that they wouldn't use a .223 for hunting 150 pound deer, but they are willing to trust their lives to .233 for hunting 200 pound armed men. I fail to see the logic there.) For .308 battle rifles, I prefer FALs and L1A1s, since they use inexpensive magazines and have clean (non-fouling) adjustable piston-operated gas systems. But if one of your key goals is light weight, then get an AR-10. (Although the latter do require more frequent and thorough cleaning.) If you do decide to get an AR-10, then make sure that it is one of the brands such as American Spirit or Bushmaster that accept commonplace (and inexpensive) FAL magazines rather than unique (and expensive) OEM magazines. (The Armalite and DPMS brand AR-10s use proprietary magazine designs. Those are usually very expensive modified M14 magazines. Avoid AR-10 from such makers!)

Are you planning to put a pair of walkie talkies under the Christmas tree this year? My #1 Son recently mentioned: "Why should people get their kids cheap 500 milliwatt 'toy' walkie talkies, or even 1 watt FRS radios when you can instead get them more practical 2 watt MURS radios? That will be a gift that they can keep and use in their adult lives." (I think that he was broadly hinting that he wants a pair for himself.)

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A reader penned this thank you: "I just got another 100% Merino extra fine wool sweater from eBay and am looking at a half dozen more. After reading about this wonderful wool material on SurvivalBlog last year, I bought a few and really like them. I wouldn't even know about it, if it wasn't for you.

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Reader M.P. mentioned: The MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base


“Do not try to live on your enemies’ terms or to win at a game where they’re setting the rules. Do not seek the favor of those who enslaved you, do not beg for alms from those who have robbed you, be it subsidies, loans or jobs, do not join their team to recoup what they’ve taken by helping them rob your neighbors.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

Friday, November 3, 2006

Today we present another article submitted for Round 7 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Since there have been so many great entries in this round of the contest, I will also be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win Round 7, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 7 will end on November 30th. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

How long would you survive if you could never buy groceries again? Now consider how much worse that scenario would be if everyone you know was faced with the same question. It may have more relevance than you think. The food distribution system in industrialized nations has a complexity which baffles the mind. Thousands of suppliers coordinate with thousands of distributors to send food to millions of retailers for billions of consumers. But is there enough redundancy in the system to ensure the continued viability of commercially delivered food to your table? What if that incredibly complex system bottlenecked or crashed? Would you literally starve to death?
It has been estimated that the average grocery store has less than a one week supply of food. We have all seen shelves stripped bare following hurricanes or other natural disasters. There is rarely starvation in those settings because aide pours in from unaffected surrounding areas. But what if the shortages were on a regional or national level?
What could possibly cause such a disruption?
There are three steps involved in getting commercially produced food to your home. The food must be produced. It must be moved from the farm to the retailer (often involving several middlemen including turning raw wheat into boxed cereal etc.). And ownership must be transferred to you.
At the very source of food farmers could stop producing food if it becomes unsafe or unprofitable to do so. A pandemic might shut down the production of food on a regional scale. Any large natural disaster would have the same effect. A super volcano or large meteor strike would simply destroy every thing in the effected area including crops, farmers, and distributors or any food that might be produced or shipped through the effected area. Even a single nuclear detonation would effectively eliminate food production in the many miles polluted by windblown fallout. Nobody farms when they are putting their lives back together after disaster or fighting for survival against a pandemic.
More likely than those violent extremes are natural fluctuations of weather. Most of us agree that weather extremes seem more common today than in decades past. Climate change (from whatever source) is evident. Drought, too much rain, excessive heat, or unseasonably cold weather may all prevent crops from germinating, kill seeds in the ground, stunt growth, delay harvest, or out right kill plants and animals. Our very lives depend on predictably mild weather.
But dangers to food production exist in even more mundane forms. The lowly honey bee is the most prolific and productive pollinator of crops. It is actually threatened with extinction by a new wave of parasites and bee diseases. In the same way that “avian flu” endangers the global bird population (and to a lesser extent humans) bee diseases have the potential to destroy that essential link in the production of food for human consumption. Diseases in the crops and animals themselves could be just as devastating. The famous Irish potato famine of the 1840s was the result of a naturally occurring plant disease that destroyed the potato crops. It alone killed thousands of people even when no other crop was affected. A similar blight in rice or wheat could have a massive impact on the food supply globally.
All these factors apply not only to domestically produced food, but to imported food as well. In addition, the importation may be negatively influenced by war, economic, and other political factors. The effect of scarce resources and impaired distribution systems for food gave rise to the need for ration cards and “victory gardens” to combat hunger in the 1940s.
Modern commercial farming is dependent on commercially produced hybrid seeds (which are not capable of reproducing true to form), commercially produced fertilizers, and especially abundant supplies of fuel. If the supplies of gasoline and diesel fuels are interrupted, commercial farming will stop. Think about that for a moment. Even changes in the market price of fuel affect the profitability of farming. If a farmer earns $1,000 per ton of food produced, but it will cost $1,000 more in fuel costs next season, why would he plant the next crop? All factors affecting oil production and distribution (let alone the growing scarcity of cheaply refined oil) affect the viability of commercial farming. Any time a farmer chooses to not produce food, the supply available for market decreases.
What about distribution?
From Wikipedia: Food distribution, "a method of distributing (or transporting) food from one place to another, is a very important factor in public nutrition. Where it breaks down, famine, malnutrition or illness can occur. There are three main components of food distribution:

    Transport infrastructure, such as roads, vehicles, rail transport, airports, and ports.
    Food handling technology and regulation, such as refrigeration, and storage, warehousing.
    Adequate source and supply logistics, based on demand and need."

All of the factors affecting food production may also adversely affect food distribution. Anything that interrupts the movement of food by road or rail or sea could stop food from reaching your market. A trucking strike, a port closure, a breakdown in communication technology would have impacts. A spike in fuel prices may slow distribution as well, but the major danger I see is a terrorists’ electro magnetic pulse. There are theories which say that a single nuclear detonation at the correct altitude could blanket the continental United States with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) sufficient to bring down the power grid and destroy the electronic ignitions in most automobiles, trucks, and other machinery. Stop the machines and you stop food distribution. Such an EMP would not only cripple hundred of thousands of machines, but would wipe out the communication networks. Framers, distributors, and retailers would not be able to communicate. Business would literally stop when no telephones, faxes, or emails could take place. If the grid was down for two weeks, people would literally begin to starve and that doesn’t even address the water shortage that would occur when the pumps stop, let alone sanitation and security issues.
The same is true of food processing and refining. Turning wheat into breakfast cereal and flour, pigs into bacon, chicken into nuggets etc all require machinery run on fuel and electricity. Each processor needs to coordinate an incoming supply of food from the farms and coordinate shipment to distribution centers and retailers.
Can you buy it?
Even if the food is on the grocery shelves, you need to be able to reach it before you can make use of it. Simple transportation from your home to the retailer and home again might be a challenge in a world where transportation has been disrupted by natural disaster, attack, or technological failure.
Some very intelligent people warn of an economic collapse on the scale of the Great Depression or worse. Hyper inflation is a reality in third world nations. It has happened in civilized and developed Europe several times in the last century as well. What if your paycheck loses 90% of its buying power in a month’s time? What if the markets lose faith in the imaginary value of currency? Such things have happened repeatedly in the past. If the store shelves are full but a can of soup costs $100, how long can you eat? How long until rioting empties the stores and stops distribution?
Most of the scenarios described above are less than likely. In fact, most will never happen. But they are possible. When you consider the combined likelihood of each small possibility you may feel that it is prudent to prepare.
Why be concerned?
Early in the twentieth century the United States weathered the Great Depression and the effects of two World Wars. Why be concerned now? 50 years ago it was common for rural households to keep a garden and home can the produce to be used until the next harvest. Many rural families kept a cow for milk, raised poultry for meat and eggs, or at least raised feeder pigs to butcher each fall. My family did all those things through the 1980s but just try to find ten homes keeping a family milk cow today!
Even five years ago, I was not terribly concerned with the challenge of finding livestock to raise my own steak, eggs, milk, butter, pork, chicken, etc. But a US government program to microchip and register every single domestic animal (including poultry) has since been undertaken. The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) proposes to ID and track every single food animal in America. This program will make it illegal to keep unregistered livestock. This may not only prompt some people to avoid keeping stock (who needs more paperwork?) but also creates the real potential for government abuse. NAIS is already in the pilot test phase. It is currently being carried out “on a voluntary basis” in several states. I’m not surprised if you’ve never heard of it. It is amazing how little press it is getting. Libertarians should be screaming warnings from the roof tops, but the media is ignoring it. If you haven’t heard about NAIS you can find info on in the Survivalblog archives and information on how to protest against it here:
As late as the 1970s open pollinated (heirloom) seeds were common in backyard gardens. As you know, hybrid seeds are far more popular than open pollinated seeds today. Of the people you know who keep gardens, how many of them plant even half their crops from seeds they save themselves? The majority of the commercial seed stock worldwide is owned and distributed by just a handful of corporations? Those corporations are rapidly buying up the smaller seed companies on a global scale. A neighbor of mine owns a seed company that has bought twenty five competitors in the past decade! It would take very few corporate buyouts or mergers to put control of the majority of the world food supply under one board of directors. If the majority of seeds in circulation for producing grain crops are hybrids (and I think they are). We have no choice but to pay whatever they ask for next year’s seeds. If you let that sink in for a moment and you will realize a terrifying potential for the abuse of power.
What can you do?
As in preparing for any danger, emergency or shortage, you should provide for your basic needs in advance.
#1 Store a food and water reserve to see you through the initial crisis. If you are reading Survivalblog, chances are good that you already consider storage food as a basic preparation. Consider storing as much as you can up to the limit of food that you will consume before proper rotation prevents spoilage. The easiest way to acquire a reserve is to buy more of what you normally use when it is on sale at discounted prices. Instead of buying pasta at 99 cents per pound each week, buy a case when it is on sale at 33 cents per pound. Do the same for soup, rice, canned fruit, etc. In a short time you will not only have a reserve of food ready for use, but your overall food bill will decrease because you are paying less for the same amount of goods over time.
You may choose to buy food prepackaged for long term storage. These dehydrated and freeze-dried products offer shelf lives of five years and longer. One source for long term storage foods is SurvivalBlog advertiser Ready Made Resources. I have done business in the past with Walton Feed. They offer a reasonably priced basic year’s supply of food for under $1,000. A year’s supply for your family is not an unreasonable amount. Five years of the shelf stable basics for your family would not be too much. But even this would be a short term solution. Should the tyranny we are discussing last longer than whatever food you have stored you must be prepared to feed yourself beyond then.
#2 Open pollinated “heirloom” seeds and the ability to raise your own crops (at least “gardening”) are part of the answer. Buy your seeds now, practice planting, harvesting, storing the food, and saving your own seeds to plant for the next season. It is worth noting that some varieties thrive in one climate or soil type, but fail miserably in other locations. It would be prudent to test the crops you hope to survive on. Ideally you could establish a large number of perennial crops such as Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, berry bushes, and fruit trees to harvest from in the future. Non-hybrid seeds are still available from many sources including The Ark Institute,, and The Seedsavers Exchange.
#3 Don’t overlook unconventional sources of food. With a little research you should be able to recognize wild forage plants and prepare them for your table. Dandelions can be found almost anywhere including in urban areas from earliest spring through late fall. Their leaves can be eaten raw or boiled as vitamin laden greens. Even if you don’t care for the taste of the greens, the nectar bearing yellow flower is a slightly sweet wild treat. Every part of the wild onion (a.k.a. “ramps” or “leeks”) is edible (wild onions) but they may be hard to find in winter. One truly four season food is the cat-tail. It has edible shoots in spring, leaves and pollen in summer, and roots in autumn and winter (cat-tail). As an example of what a little knowledge can do to put food on your table, I recently saw “gobo” (a.k.a. burdock roots) for sale in large chain grocery store for $4 per pound.
#4 If keeping domestic livestock or poultry is an option that you would like to explore, I highly recommend Countryside and Small Stock Journal. My public library carries ten years of back issues and I read every one before I became one of the contributing authors. Even if you can’t find it for free, check your newsstand or go to But remember that the time to buy your flocks, herds, and the equipment to care for them, is long before you need to harvest.
#5 If keeping small stock isn’t practical you may resort to foraging for wild game or fishing. Snares are silent and extremely effective, but they do not last forever. You will need to learn how to build and rebuild them and have the materials available to do so. Buckshot’s Camp is a great source for snares and materials as well as instructional videos. Leg hold traps are less effective (at least for me) but they last much longer than wire or cable snares. Fish traps can be an extremely effective way to gather protein silently as well. Many can be camouflaged as stream littering debris (such as discarded PVC pipe) if necessary. If you are not blessed to live in an area of natural abundance, you may wish to install and stock your own “decorative” fish pond well in advance of any time of need.
Many grains store well for months if they are stored in pest proof containers. To rodent proof your stored grains store them within steel drums, or galvanized garbage cans with secure lids. Speaking of storing animal feed, I once read an article by someone who worked in the management of a major pet food company. That author stated that in a life or death situation they would not hesitate to feed themselves on the company product. Yep, lightweight, inexpensive dry kibble and water can sustain your life for weeks if you need it to. That’s just something to keep in mind when you store those big bags of nuggets for Rover.
I hope that the above will provoke enough thought to generate a few comments including tips that I haven’t thought of, because no matter how much we have stored against times of future need, it is primarily our knowledge and the ability to apply it that will help us to survive. That is why SurvivalBlog is such a resource – Thanks, Jim!
And what if nothing happens? What if none of the dangers described above materialize in the near future? Are your efforts wasted? They are not! Because even absent disaster, you will still need to eat! In a best case scenario you will use the tips above to save money, eat a healthier, and sleep with more peace of mind.
God bless you and yours, - Mr. Yankee

A plan to monetize the one ounce "Libertad" silver coin.

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Reader J.H. mentioned this article: Israelis put nuclear bunkers in gardens

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There are some interesting ongoing threads of discussion over at the CometGold Forums, particularly in the Options/Derivatives Forum. Methinks that late 2006 and early 2007 may be very interesting times for the precious metals markets.

"The termination of charitable giving should be when appreciation becomes expectation." - Rourke

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Mr. Rawles:
My question to you is: How can I plan ahead for everything eventually wearing out at my farm/retreat, assuming we could expect a decades-long "Deep Schumer" situation? Everything I own seems sure-as-anything to fall victim to entropy. Tools eventually wear out, things rust, things break, nuts and bolts come loose and get lost in the weeds. Those lousy blue tarps only seem to only last about a year. Last weekend I went to go sit in my yard chair and I fell right through the [expletive deleted] plastic webbing, which had sun rotted. My kids laughed at me, seeing me stuck in the chair. "Har, har, har, very funny." How do I plan in advance for all this entropy, without having a big "I won the lottery" budget? Thanks, - LTP in Missouri

JWR Replies: There is no panacea, since entropy is inevitable. But at least it can be forestalled. My advice is pretty commonsense: First and foremost, buy the best quality tools and equipment that you can afford. Concentrate on classic, proven designs that are user serviceable. Buy plenty of spare parts for high-wear items. (Belts, bearings, leathers, seals, cotter pins, and so forth.)Buy plenty of spare hardware--especially for "high loss" fasteners. Retrofit all of your farm, shop, and kitchen machinery with lock washers or Nylock nuts that won't back off, where appropriate. Take good care of what you have. Keep your gear well lubricated and out of the elements. Avoid ever buying "high entropy" items like those ubiquitous blue tarps, by instead building permanent structures with metal roofs. (Such as wood sheds and hay barns.) If you use tarps for some reason, make sure that they are long lasting extra heavy duty type, like you see used on flatbed trucks. (Truckers know what lasts!) One maker of this type that I recommend is Tarps Plus. We've used one of their reinforced truck type rubberized tarps on our utility trailer here at the Rawles Ranch for seven years and it is still in great shape. Unless weight is critical, over-engineer everything that you build. Protect soft items from mice and rats by storing them in steel cabinets. (Often available at surplus auctions or even free from auto parts stores if you ask--since they often get them as freebies from their parts vendors.) If you live in a damp climate, buy a Goldenrod dehumidifier for all of your gun vaults and tool chests/carts. (These are available from Boater's World.) Learn to do your own service and repair on every piece of machinery that you own. Buy the requisite tools for all of that work. Don't overlook buying service manuals for each of your vehicles, farm machines, and major appliances. Avoid buying shoddy merchandise. In essence, you can either "buy quality" once, or buy cheap Chinese junk over and over again, with a higher cumulative price tag and the risk of being caught without, when re-supply is impossible.(Post-TEOTWAWKI.) For example, I recommend buying the more expensive heavy duty rubber garden hoses instead of cheap plastic hoses. You'll find that you buy just one "15 year" hose instead of five or six "bargain" hoses that last just two or three years each. Although the initial purchase price per unit is higher, your long term cost will turn out to be lower. And as for replacing the falling-apart yard furniture that you mention: Buy heavy duty cedar replacements. Those will last for decades. (See my friend Keith Cutter's Huckleberry Ridge web site for some of the best American made cedar outdoor furniture on the market.)

Hi James,
I wanted to share my experience at the Revolutionary War Veterans Association’s Mingus, Texas Appleseed Army Qualification Target (AQT) [high power rifle] shoot last weekend (10/28/06-10/29/06), held at the excellent Tac-Pro Shooting Center. For those that don’t know, RWVA is an organization that promotes/teaches Americans marksmanship skills using military rifles and ball ammo. A fine gentleman known as “Fred” (of Fred’s M14 Stocks fame) spearheads the Appleseed Project. They have begun holding Appleseed shoots at different ranges throughout the country with the intent of teaching shooters how to improve their marksmanship using an Army Qualification Target. Fred gave a motivating speech about what some Revolutionary War veterans sacrificed during the first shots of that war, reminding us that, at the time, those resisting were English subjects. It was no small laugh when the owner of the range introduced himself and made light of the fact that he was English! (I digress) The AQT target is one sheet of silhouettes scaled to represent the appearance of 100 yard (1 silhouette - 10 shots fired while standing - Stage 1), 200 yard (2 silhouettes - 5 shots each from a sitting/squatting position - Stage 2), 300 yard (3 silhouettes - firing 3 rds into the first two and 4 rounds into the last - Stage 3) and 400 yard (4 silhouettes - 2 shots each fired at the first two silhouettes, 3 shots each for the latter two - Stage 4) when posted at 25 meters (81 ft.). When many shooters read about the program they scoff at the fact that the targets are “only” 25 meters away. I assure you that the scale of the target makes the task and scoring quite the challenge, as no shots are fired from a bench! The grading is based on minute of angle calculations which take into account the distance represented. When I registered ($70 - a bargain) I listed my experience as “rusty” and I had no idea how right I was! My highest AQT score was just over 100 for the entire weekend (far below the Rifleman standard of 210), but the instructors constantly reminded us “A Rifleman always persists”. The 3rd and 4th stages were what were bringing my scores down. The value of the program is you get a real world perspective on how you would perform with your equipment when firing at actual targets distanced at the actual yards the scaled down target represents. You spend the day with like-minded individuals. There were a variety of military rifles present. I was especially impressed with one shooter who made a near perfect Stage 1 100 yard 10 shot score (standing). I got acquainted with a number of shooters from my area and have tentatively planned to get together with them for more AQT practice. The instructors/range officers were very professional, courteous and made hard work seem like fun. I came home sore, sun roasted, a bit dehydrated, exhausted, and a little frustrated with my performance. However, I was armed with the knowledge needed to improve my scores and more importantly improve my skill. I encourage anyone reading this to not make excuses - make the time to attend an RWVA Appleseed event. It is one of (if not "the") the best bargains in firearms training you will find. Kind Regards, - M. Artixerxes

SurvivalBlog reader "The Rabid One" mentioned that chemical light sticks can be set up with a discarded computer CD as a reflector mount. This mounting arrangement can create very visible markers for trails. helicopter landing zones, et cetera. Employing infrared light sticks in this manner (for use with night vision goggles) opens up even more possibilities. You can even make them directional. "The Rabid One" quipped: "I knew I would someday find a use for all those free AOL CDs." (Some uses for CDs are not just comical. They do make effective reflectors for scaring birds from gardens and orchards.)

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Michael Z. Williamson wrote me to say: "I want one!" From Russia with love: The ultimate up-armored SUV. Here is another article about the same vehicle.

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Speakers at the recent ASPO-USA Peak Oil conference in Boston warn: Global warming in the new century may be very severe. Byron King, editor of the free Whiskey and Gunpowder e-newsletter (one of my "must reads") reported on the conference: "The first evening of the ASPO-USA conference kicked off with three lectures, and a question session, on the subject of global warming (GW). Why global warming? Because it is what you get when you burn up lots of fossil carbon-based fuels and load the atmosphere with otherwise excess levels of carbon dioxide (CO2). GW is the other side of the coin of Peak Oil. That is, in the process of rapidly depleting the Earth’s supply of fossil fuels, mankind is also playing a life-threatening experiment with the Earth’s atmosphere. Life-threatening? You had better believe it. If you are not worried, get worried. Dartmouth professor and climatologist Cameron Wake gave a presentation about the current buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere. Wake’s research includes reviewing more than a century of very accurate, chemical measurements of atmospheric CO2, a period that covers the vast majority of the industrial era. As one might expect, CO2 levels have increased dramatically over the past century as coal, oil, and natural gas have been burned in immense quantity and scope. Recent figures for CO2 releases, including the breakneck industrialization of China and India, yield charts that accelerate upward on a skyrocketing trajectory."

"On Federal Reserve Notes, the Federal Reserve should print 'Legal Tinder', instead of 'Legal Tender.'" - # 2 Son

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The high bid is now at $100 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction, for a scarce autographed first edition copy of the book Survival Guns by Mel Tappan. The auction ends on November 15th. Please submit your bid via e-mail.

Today we present another article for Round 7 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. If you want a chance to win Round 7, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 7 will end on November 30th. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

When young and adventurous, we enjoyed family tent camping. We sneered at the "wimps" who used trailers—even including those who used camping trailers. We were purists. One year, a friend loaned us a few days of relaxation in his 16 foot travel trailer. A revelation! This was living!
We learned that deprivation was not nearly as much fun as it was to be camping with all the amenities. It was made even more clear as we watched the folks in the next campsite while they stood around in a drizzle waiting for their Coleman stove to heat up water for coffee.
Recalling this episode got me to thinking about how cool or room-temperature food will add to the misery in a down-grid situation. Hot meals are just about required for making everything else endurable. But in a continuing crisis one vital concern will be how to conserve fuel, yet provide hot meals.
Here's a slick solution: "fireless" cooking.
Your crock-pot is the latest application of this old, old idea. But the old idea as you will see is better because your homemade fireless cooker won't require electricity.
The idea is simple: food in a pot is heated to boiling on your stove, then allowed to simmer for a few minutes; then the pot lid is clapped on and the pot is quickly transferred to a well insulated box. More insulation is stuffed around and on top of the pot, filling the entire box; then the lid is closed tightly. Now you can turn off the stove! After four hours or so (timing is not critical), the food is ready to eat. If the pot is not disturbed (peeking is not allowed!), the food will still be hot even after six or more hours.
Here's the payoff: (1) not much fuel is used and (2), the food can be prepared well before it is needed.
Your fireless cooker can be readily created using a fiberglass ice chest. Ours has wheels and a collapsible handle. This is handy for having the chest near the stove for moving pots to it quickly, then rolling it out of the way while it does its job.
To adapt your ice chest:
1.Put a piece of plywood on the bottom of the chest to keep the hot pot from damaging the chest's plastic bottom.
2. Use a pot which will provide enough stew to feed your family and which has small handles. Don't use a pot which has large handles because you want the insulation to snuggle up against the pot at all points.
3. How to provide insulation for the pot:
Get a supply of styrofoam "peanuts" used for shipping and sew them up into bags that will nestle the pot. Dish towels make a nice size for these bags—or cut lengths from the legs of old slacks and sew one end shut. Sew the bags, leaving one edge open; that way you can adjust the quantity of peanuts as you create the nest. Don't overfill these bags; they should be flexible to conform to the pot. Pin the open end temporarily. Put your pot in the chest and arrange the bags around it so that there will be no air spaces between the pot and the walls of the chest. Now remove the bags and sew them shut.
Cut a couple of old bath towels into smaller pieces to stuff in odd corners if needed to gently fill any air pockets. Make a large peanut-filled bag to cover all this so that closing the lid will result in a chest completely filled with peanut bags and a pot. Later on, you can try using more than one pot, but let's make this basic for now.
Carefully remove the pot so that the nest is undisturbed. That's because when you do the actual cooking, you will want to get the hot pot into its nest quickly. Now you are ready.
1. If using meat in your meal, cut it intro bite-sized pieces and gently fry it till just done, then transfer it to the stewpot. Or cook it right in the pot. Add the vegetables, water, spices et cetera so that the pot is 2/3 full—no more: the hot air between the lid and the top of the stew is important. Oh, and soft veggies, peas for example, should go in the pot 10 minutes or so before serving.
2. Heat your stew to boiling and immediately move the container into your fireless cooker; leave it alone 4 or more hours, that's it.
3. Most crockpot recipes can be adapted for this technique—except those that call for adding ingredients while the cooking is underway. Remember, in fireless cooking, peeking is not allowed, so neither is adding anything after you've nested your pot, except at the very end (see above about peas).
One wonderful advantage to this process is the opportunity to eat any time after a few hours—food will still be hot, but not overcooked because the cooker is allowing it to gradually (really gradually) lose heat. This means the cook doesn't have to be working just before the meal is served. In fact, the cook can sit and enjoy the meal with everybody at the table. And the meal doesn't need to be ready at any set time--the meal will be ready and stay ready for several hours. So a dinnertime emergency calling the troops away won't be a kitchen disaster
Besides the advantage of using heat only to fry meat and bring the stew to a boil, you can prepare a meal long before it will be eaten and you don't have to stand over a stove making sure nothing burns.
Stew recipes are not only easily adapted to this cooking technique, they are very nutritious because the liquid is not poured off, throwing away a lot of food value. Add a hearty slice of two of whole wheat bread and your meals will be delicious and filling.
Prepare a meal in the morning to eat during or after a TV football game and no one has to spend time in the kitchen preparing. Or use this technique to prepare for a tailgate party—no on-site cooking!
When you get the hang of this technique, you will want to try using more than one pot to make, for example, a dessert to accompany the meal.
Practice using this wonderful technique now; it's simple, and it will give you one more valuable tool if disaster strikes.
Bon appetit! (You can find lots of additional information on the Internet with web search for "fireless cooking".)

I recently purchased a M48 Yugoslavian Mauser (manufactured on German tooling during and after WWII) from AIM Surplus for $109.99. [JWR Adds: These can sometimes be found for as little as $100 from discount sporting goods stores such as Big 5, and at guns shows.] In my opinion this is a great deal. I purchased one of these a few years ago and it was in nearly new condition, bore bright and shiny and the action smooth, stock in excellent condition. As many who have purchased these know, these are very good shooters and an excellent low cost rifle. AIM Surplus also has the straight-bolt M47 Mauser for $99.99 and Enfields chambered in 7.62mm NATO for $169.99. I plan on purchasing a .308 barrel from Brownell's for the Mauser and otherwise leave it as is. (This makes a great trunk rifle if you are crossing into a 'less than gun friendly state'.. and don't want to be caught with your high dollar semi-auto and high capacity magazines!) If someone is happy to leave it as a 8mm, AIM also has a supply of surplus and new manufacture 8mm for a relatively good price..Im not affiliated in anyway with this company but have been satisfied with the South African .308 I purchased and felt like passing it on. Best Regards, - Jason from North Idaho

JWR Replies: First I should mention that I am a fan of 8x57 Mauser. It is a very capable cartridge for mule deer and elk hunting. However, most military surplus 8x57 ball ammo is corrosively primed. Unless you are willing to clean your rifle scrupulously and almost immediately after firing, and are willing to clean it again for two subsequent days, then you should buy only non-corrosive ammo. Be sure before you buy! If the seller isn't willing to guarantee that it is non-corrosive, then look for another batch.

Second, most of the barrels sold by Brownell's have a "sporter" tapered contour. With those, you will not be able to re-use the rifle's original sights. What you'll need is a military contour ("stepped") 7.62mm barrel. (Such as those that were originally made under contract by FN for the Israeli Defense Force. Some readers may recall that in the 1960s the Israelis rebarreled large numbers of German Model 98K Mausers to shoot 7.62mm NATO, so that they would cartridge interchangeability with Israeli FALs.


Third, anyone that desires privacy in their gun purchases should contact The Pre-1899 Specialist. They sell hand-picked Model 1893s that have had their headspace checked. These were made in Oberndorf, Germany under contract for the Turkish government from 1894 to 1897. They are ideal Federally exempt (no FFL required) candidates for rebarreling to 7.62mm NATO.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said that investors and central banks are both shifting away from the U.S. dollar and toward the Euro.

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In Clean Politics, Flesh Is Pressed, Then Sanitized

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I heard that Ready Made Resources now stocks the excellent video "Sheltering In Place - Surviving Acts of Terrorism from Biological, Chemical and Radioactive Fallout." (North American format DVD and NTSC format VHS tapes. Sorry, no PAL format tapes or European format DVDs are available.) The video normally retails for $29 plus postage, but Ready Made Resources sells it for just $28 postage paid.

"Liberty means responsibility. That's why most men dread it." - George Bernard Shaw

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