Letter Re: Physical Gold Versus Electronic Gold

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Dear Mr. Rawles:
You are clearly (and presciently) on the record as recommending the purchase of precious metals, ahead of the current inflationary cycle. Congratulations on that excellent macro call. But I believe you also recommend holding the physical commodity rather than synthetic ownership through an exchange traded fund/note. This makes less sense to me.

As an economic hedge against fiat currency deflation, synthetic gold has lower transaction costs since you don’t have to pay for the transport of the gold, the retail broker markup, or the non-gold coinage aspects of value that are embedded into Krugerrand, Maple Leaf, and American Eagle. Gold Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) like the iShares Comex Trust typically charge a modest expense ratio of 0.4% per year to pay for storage and other fund costs, and gold ETFs are backed dollar-for-dollar by physical gold. Synthetic gold can be instantaneously bought and sold, and easily transferred into different currencies or across borders, with a few keystrokes.

Synthetic gold is also safer. If you own physical gold, you have to guard against theft and other loss. You could insure against this risk, but then the cost of insurance (which is quite high for precious metals) will be a material drag on your returns. I suppose one could argue that synthetic gold is exposed to extraordinarily unlikely events such as a nuclear exchange with a resulting EMP that wipes the digital record of your ownership—although I am not even sure that is correct because of redundant, multi-location data backup—but if that is the principal risk you’re trying to guard against, relocation to the Australian outback would seem more sensible (i.e., you have bigger worries than inflation).

It is true that physical gold, in a SHTF situation, would have value as an instrument of barter, whereas synthetic gold would not. However as an instrument of barter, physical gold has tremendous limitations. First, the instrument is not easily divisible, and if you were trying to barter with 1 ounce coins, it could be a bit like trying to buy things with a $100 bill and nobody being able to make change. Second, in a SHTF situation, because your barter counterparty would likely have problems establishing authenticity and weight, you would be charged a discount to value by him/her. In a nutshell, if physical gold’s bartering qualities are what attract you, I would propose that owning other commodities like coffee, cartridges, salt, etc. would be more effective.

My own view is that physical gold combines the worst of all worlds, given the risks that a reasonably prudent (but less than apocalyptic) survivalist should be considering. I’m curious about your view. – DC

JWR Replies: In precious metals investing, there is a continuum of risk that ranges from negligible risk to maximum risk. To my way of thinking, the “near end” of this continuum starts with the gold in your teeth and it terminates with highly leveraged futures contracts at the far end. Electronic gold is somewhere in between, and probably closer to the “safe” end, in normal times. However, since much of my thinking is geared toward some unpleasant “what ifs”, I err on the side of caution. I realize that I’m foregoing the convenience of electronic gold, but being a survivalist dinosaur, I want my metals in hand, if at all possible.

As a preparedness-minded individual, I am relatively risk adverse, and I suspect that the majority of SurvivalBlog readers share my outlook. I recommend buying physical silver, stored very well hidden at home. See the SurvivalBlog archives for some recommendations on wall caches and other secret hiding places.

There are indeed limitations of physical gold in barter as you mentioned (and as I illustrated in the “For An Ounce of Gold” chapter of my novel “Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse”). Recognizing that, my approach has been to encourage my readers to buy and hold a core holding of silver coins, for barter. Pre-1965 mint date US circulated 90% silver coins are widely recognized and have small unit values that makes them ideal for barter transactions.

Letter Re: Can I Burn Home Heating Oil or Kerosene in a Diesel Engine?

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Your article today about diesel vehicles still providing long term cost savings was quite interesting. The question I have, and perhaps [shared by] some of your readers is this: is home heating oil and kerosene acceptable fuel for a diesel engine? – Thanks, – Jim G.

JWR Replies: Home heating oil burns fine in any diesel engine, but in may countries it is not legal to do so in a vehicle that is driven on public roads. This is a “road tax” issue. Aside for a red dye additive, the formulation of home heating oil is almost identical to the diesel that was made before the recent advent of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD). The only significant difference between the two is the Federal standard on ash content.

Kerosene is a different matter. Kerosene has insufficient lubricity to be used just by itself in a diesel engine. I have also read that it burns hotter than diesel, so it might harm injectors. However, this is largely a non-issue in all but exceptional circumstances, since kerosene typically sells for as as much as one dollar more per gallon than diesel. But in an an emergency, it is presumably safe to mix as much as 20% kerosene with your diesel and not cause excessive engine wear. And, BTW, the aforementioned road tax is also an issue for kerosene.

To explain the road tax: In the US, Canada, the UK, and several other countries it is not legal to use dyed (untaxed) fuel in a vehicle that is driven on public roads. Of course if you are using the fuel in a generator set, or in an off-road vehicle such as a tractor, you can’t be accused of cheating on the road tax. The two types of diesel fuel are distinguished by the dye additive. In the US, there is no dye added to road-taxed diesel. Enforcement of these statutes varies widely, but the fines can be substantial, so stay legal.

Odds ‘n Sods:

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From reader RBS: Buffett sees “long, deep” U.S. recession

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Mike W. sent us a link to a piece written by one of my heroes, Dr. Walter E. Williams: False prophets of doom–Environmentalists would prefer that we forget these predictions

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I was doing some web surfing, and a stumbled into a great collection of photos of Swiss bunkers.

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While the Novovirus threat is subsiding with warmer weather, Rourke sent us an article about a new threat, a bacteria called C-diff: Gut superbug causing more illnesses, deaths

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

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“Unfortunately, solving our economic problems is not a simple matter of passing a law to reestablish gold or any other commodity as money. It was not the politicians, but rather the electorate that demanded the abandonment of the gold standard and the establishment of a credit-money standard. In a nation run by majority rule, unless you can convince individuals to abandon the use of government as a sword of theft, gold or any other commodity will never last as the basis for money. A gold standard is not the cause of a stable economy, it is the result of a stable economy; it is not the solution to our problem, but will be one of the consequences when a solution is found. We had a gold standard in the U.S. for over 150 years, yet it didn’t prevent our current economic debacle. Establish it again, and it will be abandoned again. In fact, it may be established again just as a sly trick to restore confidence in the value of currency, since backing the dollar with gold would make people think that our problems were solved. But the problems will not be solved, not until the use of government as a method of plunder is stopped.” – John Pugsley, The Alpha Strategy

Note from JWR:

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The high bid in the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction. is now at $650. This big auction is for any of you that are gun enthusiasts. It includes 17 items: A four day “gray” transferable Front Sight course certificate, which was kindly donated by Naish Piazza of Front Sight (worth up to $2,000), a $200 gift certificate from Choate Machine and Tool Company (the makers of excellent fiberglass stocks, folding stocks, and shotgun magazine extensions), $450+ worth of full capacity magazines from my personal collection including five scarce original Ruger-made 20 round Mini-14 magazines and five scarce 20 round Beretta M92 magazines, and an autographed copy of the book Boston’s Gun Bible.” The total value of this 17 item auction lot is $2,700! (See the SurvivalBlog Benefit Auction page for details on exactly what is included.) Note: Because this auction includes full capacity magazines, no bids will be accepted from outside of the US or from a resident of any state with magazine restrictions. Please e-mail us your bids, in $10 increments. The auction ends on June 15th.

The following article is the final entry for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day “gray” transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 17 of the writing contest begins on June 1st, so get busy!

Some Preparations that You Might Have Overlooked, by Tim G.

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Some of the things I will mention might have been covered before, but it never hurts to mention them again. Some readers might have missed them.

I can tell you from experience that people will tease you about your preparations, but when something happens they will come calling. My own brother borrowed my new-in-box chainsaw and my [12 VDC] jump starting [battery pack] to light up the area so that he could saw in hours of darkness. I told him to keep the jump pack charged. Several months later I got the chainsaw and jump pack back. The saw will not start and the battery is dead in the jump pack. I just held my tongue. They are only possessions. But it goes to show how stuff loaned out gets treated.

I did have a real cool setup until about six years ago when a water leak turned into a [household] mold. When the mold showed up we were told to immediately evacuate. We left with just the clothes on our backs. The second company yanked everything in the house out leaving just a shell. This took several months. We had been told it would only take two weeks. In meantime insurance company didn’t pay anyone. So a second company took all our stuff. When it was returned, we found that many items had been pilfered. After six years, our lawyer finally told us to settle but this never covered all our losses. Now we have several judgments against us. God has watched over us. We had a roof over our head and food on our plate. I’m telling this story to show how you never know what can happen.

We had a year supply of mt house food from nitro-pak, a great company. Second company took it to their warehouse where not environment controlled heat up to a 100 degrees F and cool down to 10 degrees F.

I had a three-way generator [carburetor] set up. This is a little more expensive, but it gives you options. The carburetor can use propane or natural gas or gasoline. I had it set for propane. I had a 500-gallon tank put in the back yard and a line run tom genset. With this setup, you can store more fuel, and not worry too much about it going bad. It also was hooked to the main power. If needed I could throw a switch. That was for down the power line safety for anyone working on the power lines. My main concern was for the well pump. You can’t live without water.

Some things that might have been over looked are hats to wear when going to bed in the winter. If you’ve seen the older movie about Scrooge, the hat he was wearing when he went to bed wasn’t for looks. It was for keeping warm and preventing body heat loss. Remember that you lose more heat from your head than other places on your body. In the winter, when our power has gone out we do a thing I call tenting. It is where you either pull covers over your head or leave a small hole to replace air and keep in your body heat when you exhale. You can make something to go over the end of the bed if the power failure lasts longer than a few hours.

Save old bottles, there is always a use for them. Pump bottles are good if you can buy stuff in bulk, like hand sanitizer or wash. Make sure you clean the bottles out and let them dry before using. Two liter bottles can have many uses. You can cut them up and make panels to nail down and maybe make a small greenhouse. Ideas are only limited to the imagination.

You can buy hand warmers at WalMart or Sam’s Club. These can come in real handy. We had a real bad ice storm and we went to my wife’s parents house because they had a fireplace. We took our dogs and some sleeping bags that were rated at 30 degrees F, plus several blankets. We were less than 10 feet from fireplace and it was cold . Most of the heat went up chimney. I opened a hand warmer, shook it and in a few minutes it was warm. I place between my knees and went right to sleep. My wife didn’t want one and was miserable all night. Guess who was also made miserable? Yep, misery loves company. She shook me awake about every hour and told me, “I’m cold get more wood on the fire.” She had both dogs with her. The hand warmers don’t have a flame or odor and are very safe to use. Depending on what brand you get, they last from 6 to 12 hours.

Condoms. I could say enough said, but they are also multipurpose. They can be put over a gun barrel to protect it. They can hold liquids as a last resort, and just about anything that you can think of.
Stuff for foods like salt and pepper. Your body needs salt, and pepper will be hard to get. Plus any other spices you might like or need. Eating the same old food everyday gets old real quickly.

Bug nets or mosquito nets. They are not just for outside use, but inside to cover your bed at night. If power is off, most likely the windows will be open to cool off the house in the summer. Bugs have a nasty way of getting in. You can inexpensively get soft netting from eBay. Some are ready-made to cover beds. At Lowe’s hardware, in their door screen section, you can buy rolls of screening and make your own inside or outside net. Get the smallest mesh possible like “No-see-um” netting.

Now that things are starting to get back to normal in our lives, we are replacing everything. If you are about broke, or on a tight budget, here are some ideas. Since I can’t afford the Mountain House foods and they [presently] are not available [in #10 cans] anyway, I buy [wet-packed canned foods in the large Number 10 cans (one gallon) at the grocery store. They are date stamped and most last almost two years. I can buy most at less than four dollars a can.

Get canned meats like beef stew and corned beef hash, canned ham, Spam etc. As of today, those are dated to expire in 2011.

Stuff like powdered Gatorade or the single serve tea packs are good. Gatorade has sugar. The tea uses Splenda. Get Splenda at Sam’s Club if possible because they are cheaper there compared to the grocery store prices. [JWR Adds: I have some serious concerns about Splenda and most other synthetic sugar substitutes. See the recent SurvivalBlog letter on diabetes, for details]

Other things that might be missed are razor blades and aftershave. I don’t want to shave without them. Remember that preventative care is better than acute health care(if its available.) You will need other toiletries too.

Every time you go to store pick up a few items. Getting two cans of soup here and extra toilet paper there adds up tremendously. All these items can be used to trade with. Buy in bulk when you can. At Sam’s Club get the big bags of disposable razors. If people come knocking you can give them one, or trade. Sometimes acts of kindness go a long way to settle down people with an intent on harm or who are belligerent.

Don’t forget some forms of entertainment, like books for reading. The most important book is the Bible. Trust in the Lord, He will see us through. – Tim G.

Lady Liberty Liberty Has a Hollow Core

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The best known symbol of the United States is the Statue of Liberty. It was a gift from the people of France, with a framework designed by Gustave Eiffel. (Yes, the same gent that designed the Eiffel Tower.) Eiffel’s Liberty statue armature design was clever, and made the statue an amazingly lightweight for a structure that towers 151 feet tall. Rather than a traditional solid masonry statue, Lady Liberty is built on a hollow framework to which copper sheets are attached. I have recently come to realize that the Statue of Liberty is a fitting symbol for the United States in this new century. We are now a hollow nation.

In the past 30 years our manufacturing infrastructure has been gutted. Countless industries have moved their manufacturing offshore. Political commentator Patrick J. Buchanan summed it up well in a 2003 article for The American Conservative:

“Across America the story is the same: steel and lumber mills going into bankruptcy; textile plants moving to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and the Far East; auto plants closing and opening overseas; American mines being sealed and farms vanishing. Seven hundred thousand textile workers—many of them minorities and single women—have lost their jobs since NAFTA passed in 1993.”

The following are a few random observations that illustrate just how hollow our nation has become::

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the home of the “Steelers” football team now produces precious little steel. Steel production went into steep decline in the 1970s and has never recovered. The big Pittsburgh steel companies can’t compete with foreign steel, some of which is state-subsidized. Sadly, the decline that starting in the 1970s has continued. The state of Pennsylvania lost another 202,000 manufacturing jobs from 2001 to 2007.

Ironically, many inventions that either originated in the US, or that were co-developed here are no longer produced in significant numbers, or even produced at all. These include the sewing machine and the television.

With each passing year, imported automobiles have gained market share in the US. The recent spike in fuel prices will make small imported cars even more popular.

The loss of American manufacturing and simultaneous increase in imports has led to some absurdities. Just try to find a pair of American-made tennis shoes in sizes for children. It seems that 95% of the tennis shoes are made in mainland China, and the rest are made in other Asian countries like Malaysia.

One of our advertisers, Wiggy’s, is one the last remaining handful of sleeping bag manufacturers that has a factory in the US. Nearly all of their competitors have switched to having bags with their label made offshore.

Even trucks and heavy equipment are getting foreign competition. A decade ago, seeing a foreign-made heavy truck was a rarity. But now, it is not unusual to see A truck made by Volvo. I’m also starting to notice more Asian-built excavators, even here in the “Buy American” heartland.

America is also suffering from a loss of technological leadership. This has led to the so-called “Geek Gap”. In another decade, China and India will no longer be dependent on US innovation. They will be the technological leaders.

Our dependence on imported oil has only worsened since the 1970s. If an OPEC oil embargo were to happen today, it would be devastating.

Roads, bridges, and tunnels in poor repair. Freeways designed in the 1950s and 1906s are now insufficient for current traffic flows, causing traffic delays that hinder economic efficiency.

Six decades ago, we helped win the Second World War because of our manufacturing strength. Given the decline in US manufacturing, I doubt that we could duplicate that feat. The erosion of the US defense manufacturing base is troubling. If supplies of foreign-made components were to be disrupted, we would be hard pressed to build many high technology weapons systems. I wrote about this trend when I was on the staff of Defense Electronics magazine in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Since then, our reliance on imported parts–particularly microcircuits and LEDs–has increased considerably. I’m talking not just about competitiveness. I’m talking about physical survival as a nation. If we have to fight a protracted major war–something similar to the Second World War–we might just lack supplies of the requisite little “fiddly bits”. Too many of them are imported.

Ditto for raw materials. In the 1970s and 1980s, the US Department of Defense (DOD) created a $6.5 billion strategic stockpile program, which set aside “440,000 troy ounces of platinum, 8,500 tons of chromium, 129,000 tons of natural rubber, 47 million pounds of cobalt and more than 5 million carats of diamonds.” But since the end of the Cold war, there have been calls to sell the stockpile off as “obsolete” since it would be a great “cost saving measure”. Some claim that all that is needed is to set aside $24 million worth of iridium, tantalum and quartz crystal. What madness. Without tech strategic reserve there is no way that we could fight a major war that involved the disruption of shipping and air transport. There is no way, whatsoever.

Clearly, something has to change if the US is going to remain competitive in manufacturing and retain its ability to fight a protracted war. I’m not calling for government-mandated protectionism. I’m just suggesting that the “Buy American” ethic needs to be renewed. Look at labels before you make a purchase. Buy American when when you can. And if a particular item is not domestically made, then buy used items instead of new. (Typically, the older items are American made, but in any case you at least won’t be sending more cash offshore.)

In many ways, The United States is entering an era that is analogous to what happened to Spain, in the waning days of their empire. Like the US is today, they were essentially a naval power. They got involved in some overseas adventures that in the long run were not profitable, using lots of borrowed money. When their credit ran out, they were forced to scale back drastically. Spain was eventually relegated to the status of a third rate power. But I should mention that in their case, their timing was particularly bad. Spain was starved of credit just as the industrial revolution was getting underway. So they essentially “missed the boat” on industrialization.

In summary, we are indeed now a hollow nation. As individuals with an interest in preparedness, we need to recognize that. At the personal level, we need to mitigate the risks that the dependence on imports has created. We should stock up, and do our best to Buy American, as we do so. We also need to recognize the macro level economic instability that the trade deficit and dependence on foreign financing have created. Be ready for a deep, long recession or even a depression. A sharp economic decline is very likely coming, and coming soon.

Odds ‘n Sods:

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Reader RBS found us this: Five Foods That Are Cheaper to Grow

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RBS also found this in a Hawaiian newspaper: Gasoline thieves cutting fuel lines

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Red Cross warns of food riots over soaring prices. (A hat tip to Bill in Ohio.)

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“I Told You So” Department: Washington Mutual – One of the Nations Largest Banks Having Trouble. (We mentioned potential margin call problems at WaMu, back on March 16th.) There are bank runs coming.

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“Cowboy” found this article that ties in with the recent letter on Treet brand canned meat: Sales of Spam rise as consumers trim food costs

Note from JWR:

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The following is another article for Round 16 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win two valuable four day “gray” transferable Front Sight course certificates. (Worth up to $4,000!) Second prize is a copy of my “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Round 16 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entries. Remember that articles that relate practical “how to” skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Considerations for Raising Chickens After TEOTWAWKI, by Gospel Guy

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Successfully raising chickens after TEOTWAWKI has a few important differences from raising chickens during normal conditions in the developed world. Changes in the availability of feed, day old chicks, and increased pressure from predators and thieves are the most likely factors to precipitate failure for many people who think they understand chickens, but are not prepared for these challenges. This article addresses the adjustments that must be made to successfully raise chickens after TEOTWAWKI.

Sustained reproduction of the flock should be the primary focus of the survivalist who wishes to ensure a supply of eggs and meat into the future. In order to maintain reproduction the flock must have a nutrient rich high protein diet. Under current conditions in the developed world obtaining an adequate diet for your flock is as simple as a visit to a trusted feed mill. However the survivalist needs a different solution as prepared chicken feed does not store well. Commercial feed goes rancid quickly, often in as little as two months, particularly if the feed contains extruded soy beans.
The best choice in storage feed for chickens is feed grade whole yellow corn or sorghum, whole oats, wheat and Azomite, a mineral supplement. Azomite is a highly regarded natural mineral product which is economical and suitable for use in livestock feed, as a soil amendment and a tonic for humans. The survivalist who is committed to the long-term survival of his poultry should store a one or two year supply of feed and seed to plant future crops of grain. Seed corn does not store well and germination rates decline rapidly. Annual rotation of the open-pollinated seed corn is strongly recommended. Some farmers in living in primitive and very remote areas of the third world store a two year supply of seed corn. Each year they plant their oldest stock of seed corn and replace the seed they planted when they harvest the new crop. This is a sound technique which encourages the trait of longer seed viability and at the same time ensures a reserve of seed in the event of a crop failure.

In order to economically meet the protein requirements of the flock’s diet, allow them to free range, use portable pasture pens or feed insects to the birds. The biggest problem with allowing chickens to roam free is the high, often devastating losses to theft and predators. It would be possible to feed soybeans for the protein and fat values they offer. However soybeans must be roasted or otherwise cooked before use as feed to deactivate growth inhibiting substances in the soybean. This additional step is labor intensive and therefore the use of soybeans is not recommended. Raising insects for your flock can be done easily with either earth worms or fly larva otherwise know as maggots. There are ample resources detailing earthworm production available elsewhere and so we will not examine this subject in depth here, in the attached supplement are directions for a controversial technique for producing fly larva under difficult conditions. Under normal or favorable conditions allowing chickens to scratch through compost, a manure pile or deep bedding will supply the protein needs of the chicken.

The final key to producing fertile eggs that will result in acceptable hatching rates is adequate vitamins. In most cases the best solution is to use portable grazing pens to allow the birds to eat all the grass and weeds they can. Two of the more common designs are wood framed “Salatin Pens” and portable hoop houses. The portable hoop house offers the advantages of easier access to the interior and welded construction with a light weight steel frame. A 10’ x 15’ hoop house is an easy to manage size. It is also helpful to soak or germinate grain before feeding in order to increase the vitamin content of the grain. It is best to feed the germinated seed while the sprouts are the same length as the seed.

Once your flock is eating a nutritious diet keep your eyes open for a hen exhibiting interest in nesting. It is best to have several experienced hens or female turkeys for hatching eggs. There is a learning curve both for the survivalist and the hen. The hen must have a safe place at a comfortable temperature with food and water available at all times and which is inaccessible to the other hens. Other hens will chase the setting hen off the nest to lay their eggs there unless they are denied access. There are several advantages to using a turkey for hatching eggs. In the first place the turkey can sit on more eggs than a hen can. Secondly a turkey can defend her nest and chicks far more aggressively than a chicken. A hen turkey will often give a beating to a curious dog or any other intruder that she sees as threat to her chicks. Also a hen turkey will not allow any other hen to peck or bully her chicks the way many non-dominate hens will, she is the biggest bird in the flock and demands respect for her chicks. As a result the mortality rate of hen turkey raised chicks is often lower than when raised by a hen. One consideration with a hen turkey is that she walks and runs faster and further than a hen will. In order to reduce stress and avoid over exertion of the new chicks it is advisable to use a hoop house or other pen to restrict the movement of the hen turkey and her chicks.
Within 24 hours of hatching the chicks should be offered food and water. Be very careful to insure that the watering pan is chick safe and will not be likely to drown or trap chicks. The chicks will readily eat crumbs and scraps from your table along with freshly ground coarse cornmeal, Azomite and finely chopped liver if available. They should have small gravel and sand available for grit. As the chicks grow they will be able to handle cracked and then whole grains. Sorghum and wheat are smaller and easier to swallow than corn and oats.

In primitive conditions the pressure from predators is frequently greater than in more modern situations. It quickly becomes obvious that everyone likes to eat chickens and their eggs; that includes neighbors, dogs, coyotes, house cats, rats, possums, coon, snakes, hawks and skunks. The protection that portable grazing pens offer is the first line of defense against predators and thieves. Dogs that are bonded with chickens and other small livestock are very helpful but you must back them up with traps and a gun. One of the most effective traps for feral dogs, possum and skunk is a Connibear trap in front of a bucket with bait in the bottom. It is very important not to set any of the larger Connibear traps where a small child could get in the trap as the 220 and larger connibears may kill or seriously injure a child. It is advisable to have a gun handy when caring for the flock because it is virtually assured that sooner or later it will be necessary to terminate the depredations of a feral dog or other varmint.

In summary there are challenges involved in raising chickens under primitive conditions after TEOTWAWKI. However with a little foresight and planning chickens can be a productive source of high quality protein, even under difficult circumstances. Supplement: Insect protein for challenging conditions.

Harsh dry conditions may make the common sources of insect protein unavailable. A prolonged drought can almost completely eliminate available insect life and turn compost in to lifeless piles of bone dry organic matter. In many tropical and sub-tropical climates with a dry season and monsoon such events happen every year. The end of the dry season becomes a time of suffering as the water sources dry up. Insects disappear and egg production all but ceases at the time additional food is needed most. Children become malnourished, sicken and die, when an egg a day would have saved their lives.

Cultivating fly larva on animal carcasses is one controversial technique that produces an abundance of fly larva under the worst of drought conditions. Under no circumstances is the production of maggots from poultry carcasses or offal recommended due to the risk of disease and parasite transmission. To produce fly larva simply throw any healthy animals or animal parts you do not wish to eat in a barrel with a scavenger proof lid on it, feral dogs are ideal candidates. At times it may be necessary to add a few cups of water as needed to keep things from drying out. This process stinks but produces a steady stream of fly larva, which when fed to the hens are converted into an abundant supply of eggs.

It is important to not allow the chickens to eat the decomposing flesh from which you are producing the larva due to the risk of food poisoning or disease transmission. The simplest method for separating the flesh and larva is to install a grate a foot above the bottom of the barrel. The carcasses remain above the grate but the larva fall through into the bottom of the barrel. By cutting a couple openings large enough to provide access to the larva a very low maintenance scavenger proof self serve feeder is created.

Several advantages are realized by feeding the larva to the chickens rather than directly feeding the animal flesh. First, insects of all types are a natural food for chickens. Second, the risk of disease transmission is greatly reduced by preventing direct contact between the chickens and the animal parts. Third, larva are a very low cost source of protein. Even in the best of times the protein component of poultry feed is costly, during a severe drought it may be completely unavailable. Fourth, by attracting flies to lay their eggs in the feeder and feeding all resulting larva to the chickens the local fly population is reduced thereby reducing the risk of transmitting fly-borne diseases to humans. Fifth, raising fly larva for poultry feed is a traditional solution to the problem of finding sufficient protein for a flock of chickens under difficult conditions. Other methods of obtaining protein for the flock are preferable but under extreme famine conditions this is a valid solution.

About the Author:
“Gospel Guy” has gardened and cared for chickens since childhood, and has raised pastured poultry commercially. For the last three years he has raised chickens for his family’s use just outside a small town in the mountains of a Third World country where he is a Christian missionary of the reformed tradition. One of his favorite ways to relax is watching chickens forage and play. His planning for TEOWAWKI is geared toward preserving knowledge and culture through a multi-generational societal collapse in the tradition of the monasteries of the dark ages. If you appreciate the author’s work, please thank him by collecting and preserving books, art and music.

Odds ‘n Sods:

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Paul from Kentucky sent this: Pioneers show Americans how to live “off-grid”

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John in Ohio flagged this: Diesels [Still] Equal Savings. The article didn’t mention the price differential between road-taxed diesel and “off road ” diesel. Currently, off-road (dyed) diesel sells for about 50 cents less per gallon than the road-taxed variety. That makes a big difference for those of us that store diesel for tractors and diesel generators.

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I spotted this article linked at Drudge: US home prices drop at sharpest rate in 20 years. I predict this downward spiral will continue for at least four years.

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SurvivalBlog reader “Tanker” noticed that the US Federal Reserve is continuing to increase the size of its now ongoing Term Auction Facility (TAF) liquidity-pumping frenzy. Check out the figure at the bottom of the “Non-borrowed” column! That is a lot of money created out of thin air. The global credit crunch is far from over.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

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"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation then by deflation, the banks and the corporations will grow up around them, will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs." – Thomas Jefferson, from the debate on the recharter of the Bank Bill, (1809)

America’s Frontier Counties–One Man’s “Frontier” is Another Man’s Suburbia

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In 1890, the US Census Bureau made its pronouncement that America’s western “frontier” was closed.

One television program that the Memsahib really enjoys re-watching now and again is the PBS series Frontier House. That led to a discussion of when the frontier officially closed. While researching that, I stumbled into the National Center for Frontier Communities web site. They have a very loose “by consensus” definition of what defines a “frontier” county. This map shows the absurdity of their definition. I suspect that they made the definition loose, so that participants can qualify for government grants. If you look at the Year 2000 US Census data, it is a far better gauge of who actually lives in truly remote rural counties. For example, in California, only 2% of the population lives in frontier counties, but in Wyoming the figure is 73.9%.

The generally accepted threshold for “Frontier” population density is six or fewer people per square mile. But to this day, there is no official definition of what “frontier” means. By my definition, less than 100 counties in the Lower 48 States could still be considered truly “frontier.”

So here are some of my subjective estimations of what constitutes a present-day frontier county:

When a tree falls down across the county road you don’t even bother calling the county road department. You just get out your chainsaw.

You know the names of all of the neighbors in a five mile radius.

A shopping trip sometimes requires buying more than one tank of gasoline.

There won’t be cellular service in your area for another 5 or 10 years, but nobody really wants it, for fear that it will attract yuppie land buyers.

Nearly every conversation includes the phrase “Get ‘er done!”, and nobody thinks that its a humorous reference.

The only factor that keeps you from having the lowest car insurance rate in the nation is the high number of deer collisions

Your friends’ most closely guarded secrets are the locations of their favorite fishing holes and berry patches.

The nearest grocery store also sells fishing bait, propane, ammo, Ivermectin paste, and T-posts.

One out of every five vehicles that you pass on the highway is a quad ATV.

The standard greeting for two months of each year for men, women, and children is: “Hi! Did you get your elk yet?”

Letter Re: An Oil Extraction Press that Could Prove Useful at Retreats

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Though this PDF starts out explaining how to make “briquettes” for cooking fuel, it eventually shows a crude oil extraction press. This could be a handy tool for supplementing one’s diet with vegetable and nut oils and also for making biodiesel (or for use in a Straight Vegetable Oil powered engine). Regards, – Hawaiian K.