The Pre-Test and the Ultimate Test

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There may come a day when you have to put all of your training and preparations to use. That will be ultimate test of whether or not you have a true survival mindset. Do you think that you are ready for WTSHTF, physically and mentally? Assuming that you live in the suburbs, try a weekend “grid down” test with your family. This will test both your mental preparedness and how well you have prepared for the basics. Here is how it is done: Some Friday evening, unannounced, turn off your main circuit breaker and shut the valves the gas main and the water main. Leave them off until Monday morning. You might be surprised how the weekend goes. One thing that I can guarantee you: Some of the most accurate lists of logistics that you will ever compose are those written by candlelight.

Now, assuming that your weekend test goes well, extrapolate to a situation where your entire community is in the same circumstances. Then add to that some turmoil: bullets are flying and perhaps there is even the occasional stray mortar round. The recent civil wars in Kosovo and Macedonia are good points of reference.

Letter Re: Security for Unattended Retreats

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Hello Jim,
Todd’s article [on Friday, November 23rd] was a good discussion on the all encompassing aspects of your retreat. It has been some time since security has been discussed on the blog, namely security systems. Here are some things that could, (should) alert you to a detrimental event at your intended retreat when you do not live there.
Have a security system wired into you future retreat, motor home, CONEX, outbuilding, etc… I would venture a cost range from $300-to-$2,000 to cover your structure from basic to very well covered. Monitoring varies and will likely run around a Dollar a day.

There are countless options that provide “extra sets of eyes and ears” at your retreat during life as we know it. There are many companies that will give you support so you can install your own system. They will likely cash sale you the necessary wire and components. Then you can have them come out and connect it to a monitoring service that will call anyone you decide either before or after calling the authorities, it is customizable. If you would like it to call a trusted neighbor, your pager, or your own phone, it is possible.

If your retreat is already built, you can go with wireless sensors that have great range and extremely simple to install. A huge piece of mind can be offered by adding moisture sensors and temperature sensors to your system that will along with fire, contact you and the monitoring service can tell you that your heat source has failed, smoke is detected, water is detected, and so forth. All without having to compromise a key to your retreat and the password to your alarm.

You can add different user passwords so you can tell whom has been there and when. It is amazing what is available. Don’t forget the weakest link which is the hard-line to the property. Vandal proof it, or better yet, discuss underground thru foundation service. This is available, you just have to ask and possibly bear the risk of having to pay the phone companies technicians to come in and troubleshoot future line problems rather than it be on their dime when the demark point is outside the structure. If you don’t want the possibility of having the technician inside your structure, then harden the wire with stout metal pipe where it is above ground, possibly make a hardened sheet that protects the demark point from impact or bolt cutters. Details will have to be worked out with your utility company. At the very least this will add considerable work and noise to attempt to terminate your phone line.

If you have multiple structures on your property, don’t forget to bury an underground high speed Cat 5 telephone line and it’s a good idea to throw in a low voltage and coax line in the trench for interconnectivity of your buildings. This will allow you to monitor the structures with only one system, (if large enough), and only pay one monitoring fee. If someone attempts to break in to your garage, you can have the sensor chirp in your home so you can investigate on your own rather than wait for the authorities should you deem it necessary and safe to do so.
As a last reassurance, add a set of security cameras. Many companies offer cameras that only tape when motion or heat is detected. Get with your local “techie” and ask him how to view your property real time and/or review your recording device over the Internet so you can look for odd or awkward behavior. At least you have the opportunity to apprehend the bad guys and possibly recover some of your stuff should you choose to do so. Or, at least you can know who or whom you can trust if you decide to “keep quiet” about your loss.
Peace of mind for about the cost of a nice rifle and magazines. I think that it is worth it. – The Wanderer

Letter Re: Reactions to Preparedness Course

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Your “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course is an amazing tome of information and I refer to it quite often. I’m thankful to have found it and I’m grateful that there are folks out there, like you and Jim, who are willing to devote serious amounts of time and effort sharing (well, okay, selling for a reasonable price) their knowledge. Hats off to you!

Its weird, I’ve shown the course to several people and several ridiculed me for having spent such a sum of money on 220 pages of information relating to some guy’s shopping spree at a big box store. They simply failed to understand the importance of the information contained. Their reactions were what I’d expected but, surprisingly, three of the seven or eight folks I showed the course to found it to be as interesting and important as I did, and one of them is planning on buying the course this week. People are waking up.

I don’t want to ramble on for too long, but suffice it to say that an incredibly tiny amount of people truly understand the predicament our country is in and the precarious nature of how food and goods are made available to them.

I’ve tried to explain the situation in simple, straightforward terms and backed my word by countless sources of reliable information, only to be met with either apathy or accusations of fear-mongering. I pray I never have to rely on my preparations, but even a Boy Scout knows better than to rely on hope alone. And I certainly didn’t hear my family complaining as they gobbled up my fresh whole-wheat dinner rolls at Thanksgiving, made from grain that I had milled the night before.

A hundred bucks for this course? You could double that price and I’d have still made the purchase. I’m going to buy another copy on Friday, as a Christmas gift to a friend. I hope I can slip my order in before the deadline ends. Thanks. Keep fighting the good fight. – H.H.H.

Weekly Survival Real Estate Market Update

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We have seen the first significant snowfall in northern Idaho and northwestern Montana which from the scuttlebutt around town has sent sellers into a panic, in which they rightly should be. Although some folks around my locale understand the engineered crash of the Dollar, most are still of the opinion that pulling their property off the market and waiting until spring will yield them either a better price (good luck) or a faster sale at that time (maybe so, with a plethora of SurvivalBloggers arriving?). This makes for more detailed work for your agent as they now must search the recently expired, withdrawn and canceled listings in your locale of choice, as much as the active listings for sale to find your retreat.

The other issue is that most sellers, if the property remains on the market into winter, either fail to realize or just don’t want to admit that the value of their property may be drastically reduced very soon and you’ll need to be careful making too low of an offer as not to insult them. Many folks in the country are stubborn enough to walk away from a sale because of their pride, so be careful with low ball offers. It may be better to offer them more than you want to pay than to come back with an addendum lowering the price after the home inspection is done–and you have some ammo for your price drop. If they do not agree then you simply cancel the purchase, get your earnest money back and find another property.

Speaking of other properties the key is to have you back up property ready to write an offer on. And, you must be ready to walk away from your first choice if you don’t get it for your pre-determined price. Do not get emotional about any property unless you are willing to pay the sellers asking price, period! If you can’t walk away from a deal for $1 then your going to get run around with counter offers until your blue in the face.

You’ll need to gather your facts about your primary and secondary retreat choices that you’ll be making offers on. If retreat #1 has the ultimate gravity fed spring water (or a shallow well) and #2 is a very deep well but the most tactically sound property you have ever seen, recall what I said in my WSREMU of 10-26 where I wrote about the importance of prioritizing your retreat characteristics while shopping, the first being water in the acronym W.A.L.L.S. (Water, Access, Location, Light). You can always defend a property, it just may take more resources, but having gravity fed spring water like we do here at the Savage Retreat is like gold. So you’ll need to raise the bar for your #1 choice since the benefits of fresh water 100% of the time even in a grid down situation outweighs the risk of paying a little (or allot) more than you wanted or felt the property was worth. One can always buy a TNW 1919A4 in order to defend a less than tactical retreat than to magically have a gravity fed spring appear on the property!
Another consideration may be that you have narrowed your search down to two properties, one that has a house that backs up to a hillside and is very wooded with no tillable land and just enough room and sun exposure for a small garden that may feed your family if you can everything you grow for the winter. The second is a nice older farmhouse on a nice plot of tillable acreage but it is very exposed to everyone around. Depending upon your idea of when the TSHTF you may consider that having the tillable land for growing barter items and for wider fields of fire and may be more beneficial. In such a case I would look into obtaining a wholesale license to save money, and purchase a mixture of Poplar for higher concealment (which certain varieties can grow up to 8 ft per year and top out at 80 ft) and Evergreens for lower concealment and plant them around the perimeter of the property. Tillable land is more valuable in the long term than tactical land since again, defensibility is merely a matter of resources. This makes getting to know your neighbors as important as the specific property in order to determine who will be a help and who may be a hinder (target) in times of peril, especially if you plan to quietly form a “security cooperative” during peace time that will turn into your outer warning ring when TSHTF.

Forming your “security cooperative” will take time. It will require genuine effort and a warm attitude as the ‘new’ folks are always under the microscope for am minimum of one year in the country. You won’t be able to walk right out and make trusted friends, especially if your a city slicker like I was when I got to my locale. You should do a quick meet and greet during your inspection period and make sure that the banjo dueling neighbors aren’t child molesters as well, or worse tax collectors. Once you have established your cooperative they can serve as a watchful eye on your retreat if it will not be a year round residence for a spell. During times of peril they can serve as your outer warning ring but most likely will not fall back to your retreat. Remember, friends are friends and business is business and your ultimate priority is securing the safety of your family and those in your actual “Group” that will be arriving when the balloon goes up, so unfortunately, it’s merely ‘business’ and they in most cases will serve their purpose. This may sound cold, but it’s reality. Dispense Christian charity and send them on their way. Your children will thank you one day after all returns to normal.

Earlier this year I had a client that asked me to complete a tactical overview on several properties they were considering purchasing. One of the biggest issues was similar to the one above, where the property had required the purchase of several hundred trees in order to close it off from the nosy neighbors prying eyes in order for a an LP/OP to be constructed hidden in plain sight so to speak. My advice was two fold. First, no matter what or where you’ll be doing construction you’ll be better off if you meet with each of your neighbors over a period of a few weeks before construction begins to nonchalantly mention that your having either a wine cellar constructed or the new one I like, a high tech duck or deer blind built. Why? Because as I have said before, either they will see what is going on and actually come onto your property to say “hi” (which you do not want at that time) or they will be part of the construction crew (gravel, concrete, wood supply driver et cetera) and if so they will pay you no mind. I’m sure you’d rather have them talk about you as the “wine connoisseur” than the “survival nut”, right? I guess the only issue would be explaining the tunnel from the house to the “duck bind”, but I’m sure an answer of “I have more money than brains and I like the convenience of being warm all the way there and back” would be sufficient enough to have them roll their eyes and walk away!

As a noteworthy point, always have a home inspection, even if you do not plan to use it to chop the price down you’ll need to know what your going to fix and improve and the $300 or so you’ll spend will be well worth it. If the deal is so good your going to pay cash and close it quick before the seller realizes what is happening, then fine, worry about the rest later but still have the inspection after closing. The best way to find a good inspector is to have your agent recommend one then get into the yellow pages and call around and look for anyone that used to be in any type of analytical or construction field before arriving at being an inspector. If you are worried about something then hire separate licensed contractors to do the inspections, a plumber, electrician et cetera. Always have the septic tank inspected and pumped before close of escrow, it is standard that it is done here but it may not be elsewhere, so be careful.

On a closing note, if you are planning to relocate someday to the northern Idaho or northwestern Montana area I have information on a secure storage facility for those that want to pre-position supplies here until they can buy or build their retreat, but feel more comfortable having to carry only their BOB’s and a rifle to get here and not a unsecured rented trailer. There are several requirements in order to qualify. Also, I can help you with your retreat shopping as we have finally got Freedom Realty open for business and will be featured on the site soon along with many approved listings being republished. Thanks for your patience. Please contact me if you are interested in any of these opportunities, via e-mail for more information. God bless, T.S. in N. Idaho

Odds ‘n Sods:

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Reader Michael C. mentioned that there is a nice selection of online bushcraft books at the Backyard Bushcraft web site.

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S&P Says Third-Quarter Housing Prices Dropped by Sharpest Rate in Index’s 21-Year History

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Bob M. in Pittsburg sent us this article link: The “Free Money” Credit Card Brawl at KMart. Bob’s comment: “I’m not sure which is more appalling; that people would riot, and behave thusly, or that they think that ‘credit’ is in fact, ‘free’ money!”

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From The Wall Street Journal: Study Warns of Decline In Value of Homes. The article begins: “The property value of U.S. homes will fall by $1.2 trillion, and ‘at least’ 1.4 million homeowners will lose their properties to foreclosure in 2008…”

Note from JWR:

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Today we present another article for Round 13 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 $2,000!) Second prize is a copy of my “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 13 ends tomorrow (November 30th). Remember that articles that relate practical “how to” skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Letter Re: Advice on Buying AR-10 Rifles

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I live outside of Boise, [Idaho] on 40 acres with a deep well and have most everything ready for a jump to my brother’s new ranch in Montana, if (when) the SHTF. While my place will be occupied by my friends that don’t have anywhere to go and /or want to stay in the area. I will leave for a better Bug Out Location where I and my family can better survive long term. I only live here because it is a good job and I can’t find anything even close to pay in the part of Montana that my brother lives in. He is a doctor and can afford the remote life style.

I would like your input,. My brother and I are getting ready to buy a pair of .308 semiauto rifles and for the most part I like the Armalite AR-10 with an ACOG scope. This would be our defensive long range (250 to 500+ yard ) rifle. Any recommendations as to something “better” than a factory model, do you know of someone else building something with .308, reliable magazine design. While rails and collapsible stocks are cool and I would like them, they are not necessary for the intended purpose. I have looked at [the] DPMS [AR-10] but I also here a lots of complaints from people who actually own the weapon. Thanks, E.

JWR Replies: Aside for Eugene Stoner’s relatively dirty gas tube action (which can be mitigated with regular cleaning), the only drawback to most of the AR-10s on the market is the high cost of extra magazines. Most AR-10s use variations of M14 magazines which can cost up to $40 each. However, a few brands of AR-10s use standard FAL magazines which can often be found for under $8 each! So, with that in mind, I would recommend the Bushmaster AR-10 (now out of production) and the RRA (Rock River Arms) LAR-8 A SurvivalBlog reader was recently told by a Bushmaster customer service representative that Bushmaster sold its tooling and rights for their .308 rifle about a year ago to Rock River Arms.

The AR-10 is a fine rifle choice for your circumstances. They can be quite accurate, so they are ideal for open country–like the majority of Montana. Just be sure to get at least one of your AR-10s set up for long range shooting. Get a full length (20″) barrel and fixed stock flat top (“A4″) model that will readily take optics mounted low enough to provide a consistent cheek weld. The ACOG TA-01 or TA-11E would be good versatile day/night scopes. They are available from a number of Internet vendors including CGW. (I noticed that they currently have the TA-01 .308 BDC scope on sale.) But since you are planning on open country shooting, make sure that at least one of your long-barreled .308 rifles is set up a with an adjustable magnification Mil-Dot or ART scope in its primary configuration, with perhaps an ACOG as a spare if you can afford it.

Letter Re: Preparedness Course Applicability for Australia?

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Hello Mr. Rawles,
I was looking to take advantage of your “1/3-off” offer on your “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course, but before I spend that kind of money, I was wondering if you could tell me how suitable you course is for non-US conditions, specifically, Australian conditions? How “Americanized” is it, and how difficult would it be to “translate” it into Australian?

I really enjoy your blog, and have found your tips and those of your contributors very helpful. Kind Regards, – Richard C.

JWR Replies: The course and accompanying audio CD are largely geared toward American and Canadian readers, but if you have comparable “warehouse” type stores with large container/case lots of packaged foods available, then it should be 95% useful to you. Oh BTW, one oversight: I don’t list the shelf life of Vegemite.

The 33% off sale for the course ends tomorrow, so be sure to place your order soon. Best Regards from us here the snowy north to you in the sunny south

Odds ‘n Sods:

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Paris suburb riots called ‘a lot worse’ than in 2005

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EU President Barroso: Weak dollar a ‘problem’ for world economy

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The precious metals market has been volatile, jumping up and down on every bit of international economic and financial news. I currently suggest “at-or-below” buy prices of $818 for gold, and $14.42 for silver. As always, buy on the dips! And, as previously mentioned, be sure to get your beans, bullets, and Band-Aids squared away before investing any excess cash in precious metals. It now appears very likely that the Federal Reserve will make further interest rate cuts. This can only be bearish for the US Dollar and bullish for silver and gold. Get out of dollars and in to tangibles!

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Murray and Larry W. both spotted this one: Citigroup to Raise $7.5 Billion From Abu Dhabi State. They are giving the sheiks 11% interest when the prevailing rates are half of that? This sounds like a desperation move to me.

Notes from JWR:

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The 33% off sale for the “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course ends in just two days. Be sure to place your order online or have it postmarked by November 30th

Today we present another article for Round 13 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 $2,000!) Second prize is a copy of my “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 13 ends on November 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical “how to” skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.