Notes from JWR:

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Today we present the final entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. Any entries received henceforth will be posted in Round 44. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A “grab bag” of preparedness gear and books from Jim’s Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Sourdough Bread Baking, by Sarah in California

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You may have a years worth of wheat (or more) stored, but will you be able to make it into bread and other baked goods after TEOTWAWKI?  Sourdough is the solution for preppers.  No need to worry about expiration dates on your commercial yeast packets, a properly cared for sourdough starter can last indefinitely, providing an unlimited source of yeast.  There are several known sourdough starters in the United States that are over 100 years old.

Sourdough is a method of bread preparation that has been used for thousands of years.  It probably originated in Egypt around 1500 BC and was widely used until the Middle Ages.  Today, true sourdough is rare (store-bought “sourdough” bread is usually artificially flavored [with vinegar to make faux sourdough]) but making a comeback among artisan bread bakers. With modern conveniences of dry yeast and cheap store-bought bread, homemade sourdough bread has fallen out of favor with the general public, but mastering the sourdough technique is helpful for anyone choosing to decrease their dependence on commercial goods.

What is sourdough?

Sourdough bread products utilize wild yeasts and friendly bacteria to leaven the bread (i.e. cause it to rise).  A small amount of sourdough starter is added to a larger amount of flour and the dough is allowed to ferment for a time.  During the fermentation the dough is pre-digested, making it more palatable and nutritious, and the chemical process releases gases, causing the dough to rise.

Sourdough gets its name from its slightly tangy flavor caused by the production of lactic acid by the lactobacilli during fermentation. Though it is usually associated with bread, it can be used to make many different kinds of yeasted (for example, pizza dough) and unyeasted (for example, muffins) flour-based baked goods.  

Why sourdough?

Modern bread recipes require a continual dependence on dry yeast manufacturers.  On the other hand, sourdough is a self-generating, never ending supply of yeast.  Sourdough has many further benefits and advantages for the prepper as it is simple, versatile, and nutritious.

Sourdough may seem intimidating for a beginner, but the technique can be quickly mastered. Cultured yeast requires a specific temperature in order to activate and rise.  Sourdough is more forgiving, especially for flat breads. Many recipes call for just four ingredients (flour, water, salt and oil) in varying proportions.  For example pizza dough, crackers, bread, biscuits, tortillas, pita and rolls can all be made with just these four ingredients.  

Sourdough is also versatile.  With just a few more ingredients on hand, a myriad of other baked goods can be made including muffins, cinnamon rolls, noodles, cookies, english muffins, crepes, cake, pot pies, pocket pizza, pancakes and waffles.  An additional benefit of sourdough is that it pre-digests the flour in a way that gives the dough a lighter flavor and texture, making whole grain versions of baked goods like cinnamon rolls more appealing than their non-soured, whole grain counterparts.

Furthermore, utilizing the sourdough method increases the nutritional benefits of baked goods.  As previously mentioned, the souring process gives baked goods a lighter flavor and texture, making whole grain goods more palatable to picky eaters.  Whole grains are higher in B vitamins, fiber and minerals than refined grains.  Furthermore, souring breaks down phytates which are present in whole-wheat flour, anti-nutrients which inhibit the body’s absorption of minerals.  The souring process also makes whole grains easier to digest and breaks down some of the gluten.  In recent years, many people have developed sensitivities to gluten (possibly because of our modern bread-baking techniques) but many of these people can tolerate baked goods that have a long souring time, because the gluten is pre-digested for them.

How to make and care for a sourdough starter.

As previously mentioned, sourdough involves using a little sourdough starter mixed into a larger amount of flour.  Therefore, the first step to making sourdough baked goods is to make (or obtain) a sourdough starter.  If you plan to make sourdough goods on a regular basis, you will want to have a sourdough starter on hand at all times.  That means once you make or obtain a starter, you will want to continuously feed and maintain it, although you can take breaks by putting it in the refrigerator for up to a couple weeks.

Sourdough starters can be purchased from various internet sites.  They come dehydrated, and you just add water to reactivate them.  If you know someone who makes sourdough goods, you can get some of their starter (I have given starter to at least four of my friends since beginning my sourdough journey a year and a half ago.) 

Another option (which is also a great skill to learn for future use) is to make a homemade starter.  There are as many opinions on how to make a starter as their are recipes for using your starter.  I will give you the method that I used, but feel free to research others.  Most people say that it is easier to start a sourdough starter when it is warm outside, but I was able to begin my starter pretty easily on the first try in the middle of a December. (Granted, I do live in a coastal area where winters aren’t too cold.)  Regardless, it is helpful to keep your starter in a warm area of the kitchen (such as next to the stove, crockpot or in the oven with the light on).

To make a starter from scratch, take a cup of water and a cup of flour, and mix together in a glass bowl, large mason jar or ceramic crock.  It is important to use non-chlorinated water, as the chorine can inhibit the growth of the helpful lactobacilli in your starter.  If you use unfiltered tap water, leave it on the counter for 24 hours before using it to allow the chlorine to evaporate.  Make sure to only use wooden or glass utensils to stir, as metal can react with the starter.  After stirring, scrape down the sides of the bowl or jar.  Cover with a cloth to keep out dust.

Let this mixture sit in a warm area of your kitchen for 12 hours.  Then remove half of your water/flour mixture, and add another half cup of flour and half cup of water.  Continue removing half of the mixture and adding more flour and water every 12 hours. (I aim to do it while making breakfast and after making dinner, which is about 12 hours and coincides with my time in the kitchen.)  After about 3-5 days you should start to see some bubbles forming around the side of the glass and/or on the surface of the starter.  This shows that wild yeasts and bacteria are starting to colonize the culture.  You will want to wait until your starter is very active before attempting to bake with it.  Bread shouldn’t be attempted until the starter is well established, as it requires the most yeast activity to turn out well.  Once your starter is established, you don’t need to throw out half of it every time you feed it, but plan to use it regularly so that your don’t have too much starter building up (you can use up extra starter by making pancakes, I share a  recipe for that below).

Caring for your sourdough starter is simple, but it must be faithful.  Keep in mind that your starter is full of living, active bacteria and yeasts.  It must be tended to and fed like any member of your family.  Keep your starter in the warmest part of your kitchen except for in the hottest parts of the summer, when you may want to keep it in a cool part of the kitchen (such as on a low shelf of a cabinet… but don’t forget about it!).  Your starter needs to be fed at least twice a day. (I shoot for first thing in the morning and then after dinner at night) with equal parts of water and flour.  You can rest your starter in the refrigerator, during which time it only needs to be fed once a week, but don’t let it go for more than a few weeks in the fridge without pulling it out and using it.  Store your starter in a glass bowl or mason jar, and stir it with a wooden spoon or other non-reactive utensil.  Your sourdough starter should never come in contact with metal (though I sometimes use a stainless steel spoon for a quick stir after feeding it, as stainless steel has low reactivity,)  After feeding your starter and stirring, make sure to scrape down the sides to discourage the growth of mold.  Always cover your starter when not in use to keep out bugs and dust.  Fruit flies are especially attracted to the scent of sourdough starter.

Depending on your rhythm of life and frequency of baking, you may choose to keep your sourdough starter on the counter continuously (during which times it needs to be fed at least twice per day), or you may choose to let it lay dormant in the refrigerator for periods of time (during which times you only need to feed it once a week.) I have used both methods in my year and a half of doing sourdough, because of varying life circumstances.  To give you an idea, I will provide some examples from my experiences with sourdough.

For my first six months of doing sourdough, I was feeding seven people three meals per day (my husband and I had four foster children plus my mother living with us) and my starter rarely went in the fridge.  I was making sourdough baked goods on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times per day.  I was continually taking from my starter and continually feeding it.  I rarely had too much starter and often faced the problem of not having enough due to poor planning or forgetfulness.

Then the four children went back to living with their birth mother, and my mother moved out, and I was down to cooking for two.  I was pregnant and trying to up my protein intake, and I decreased the amount of grains that I was preparing.  During this time, I kept the starter in the refrigerator and sometimes went for 2-3 weeks between uses (without feeding it for the whole time and it survived.  Sourdough can be very forgiving!)

Currently, we have a college student living with us, two babies and frequent guests over for meals.  I keep my starter out about half of the time, and in the refrigerator the other half of the time.  I usually lay out a meal plan at the beginning of each week, which helps me to know when I need to keep it out and build up the starter, and when I can leave it to rest in the refrigerator for a few days.  All this is to say that you can make sourdough fit with your lifestyle, and it will bring great benefit if you do.

Sourdough Recipe Tips

Few modern cookbooks include sourdough recipes, but there are an increasing number of recipes to be found on the internet.  It can be intimidating to know where to start for someone new to sourdough.  I have found the most reliable recipes come from sites that emphasize traditional foods and preparation methods.  Here are some terms and other things to be aware of when choosing recipes to try.

Souring time.  The longer the souring time (also called rising time), the more nutritious the end product will be.  Look for recipes that call for 8-12 hours of fermentation, which is enough time to break down most of the phytic acid.  If a recipe calls for a shorter time than this, it often requires supplemental commercial yeast.

Percentage of hydration.  In some recipes you will see terminology about the percentage of hydration.  This has to  do with the flour/water ratio of your starter.  For example, 100% hydration means that a starter is fed equal parts of water and flour.  I find that a starter fed equal parts water and flour works for most recipes, but to be safe, you can stick with recipes that call for 100% hydration until you are more familiar with sourdough baking.  If a recipe does not specify the percentage of hydration, it is usually safe to assume they are calling for a starter fed equal parts of flour and water.

Your flour. Store bought flour is more compacted than freshly ground flour.  So, depending on the type of flour you use, you might need slightly more or slightly less than a recipe calls for.  I have found that the more times that I make a recipe, the better the idea I get for how the dough should look and feel, and I can adjust accordingly.  If possible, use freshly ground flour.  Not only do whole wheat berries store longer than flour, but freshly ground is the most nutritious form of flour.  By some estimates, flour loses 90% of its vitamins within three days of being ground. (Although refrigerating or freezing freshly ground flour will slow down this micronutrient loss.)

Sourdough bread requires more skill and patience than other sourdough products.  Approach bread baking as a learning experience, and expect to make a brick from time to time, especially at the beginning. Instead of throwing out a dense loaf, grind it up into bread crumbs, store it in the freezer to use when you need bread crumbs for a recipe, or feed it to your chickens, ducks or pigs.  To ensure success with bread baking, make sure your starter is very active and that you allow the bread to rise in a warm place (I like to put it in my oven with the oven light turned on.)

I will leave you with a recipe for sourdough pancakes, which is probably the sourdough recipe that I use the most.  It is easy and forgiving, and a great recipe to start with as you learn sourdough. Even a weak starter that is just a few days old can be used for this recipe.  When you have an excess of starter, this is a good way to use the extra up quickly.  It is also a quick and easy breakfast for when I fail to plan ahead, as it only calls for starter and requires no souring time.

2 cups sourdough starter
2 tablespoons sweetener (honey, brown sugar, etc)
4 tablespoons of butter or coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda

Heat your seasoned griddle to a medium-high heat.  Mix together all ingredients except the baking soda.  Add the baking soda right before you are ready to pour the batter.  Cook the pancakes on the griddle until they are golden brown on both sides. 1/3 cup of batter per pancake makes about nine medium sized pancakes.  Enjoy! 

Letter Re: Bloomberg’s Gun-Grabbing Mayors–Not in The American Redoubt

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James:
You linked to an article on Thursday about Bloomberg’s gun grabbing mayors: the Mayors Against Illegal Guns. I noticed on their list of member mayors that a few states were without any mayoral representation (A badge of honor!)

Missing from the list are:
• Alaska
• Idaho
• Montana
• Oklahoma
• Wyoming

Three of these are American Redoubt states. This is yet another reason to move to the Redoubt. Regards, – Adam G.

JWR Replies: It is also noteworthy that many of the “former” members on the roster (shown in bold in this 2008 list) are now serving felony prison sentences. Kwame Kilpatrick, for example, already a convicted felon, is presently standing trial under a new 38-charge felony indictment for additional corruption charges. The testimony thusfar does not bode well for him.

Economics and Investing:

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Spain Now Faces a Systemic, Societal, and Sovereign Collapse

Warren Buffet: Fed has no more bullets left to stimulate US economy

Senator Blasts ‘Secret’ Fiscal Cliff Negotiations

Items from The Economatrix:

We Are About to Crush 15 Years of Resistance in Gold & Silver

The Giant Currency Superstorm that is Coming to the Shores of America

Feud At The Fed:  “Horrific Consequences” For Unlimited Easing

Odds ‘n Sods:

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Joe K. recommended a piece in an Outdoor Life blog: Survival Skills: How To Make A Torch

   o o o

Rob L. pointed me to a video demonstration of a new sniper scope technology: TrackingPoint Demonstration.

   o o o

Regional update: Sudan, Iran, and Gaza

   o o o

November 30th is the Last Day of Safecastle’s Mountain House sale, with discounted prices on select canned favorites. Also, From November 26 to December 2, during Week 14 of our ongoing “Repel the Chaos” incentive program, Safecastle Buyers Club members who make any purchase of at least $600 in their e-store will receive a free bundle that includes a Firebox Folding Stove (uses any fuel), an Aurora Firestarter, and two ReadyFuel packets.

   o o o

The demonization begins: Kerosene Lamps Identified as Big Source of Black Carbon. The science behind this assertion are flaky, when seen in the proper conext. One good-sized volcanic eruption or a few forest fires generate far more more carbon than the entire amount of carbon produced by kerosene lamps in the U.S. each year. If the government wants to offset that impact, they should simply pony up to buy a couple of more fire retardant bombers. Oh, but wait, our government is instead spending its money kindling forest fires. (Thanks to Steven H. for the initial link.)

Notes from JWR:

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Today is the birthday of C.S. Lewis. He was born in 1898 and died November 22, 1963. He is known for his Christian apologetics writings as well as for the Chronicles of Narnia book series.

Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The queue is now full for this round, so any entries received will be posted in Round 44. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A “grab bag” of preparedness gear and books from Jim’s Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Constructing and Finding Hiding Places, By Eli in The Southwest

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I am a law enforcement officer by trade. The area I work, as more and more areas often do nowadays, has an unfortunate problem with Meth. Most often, Meth is carried in 1.5”x1.5” plastic baggies that are usually folded up. As you can imagine, people get awfully desperate when trying to hide them.  As you can also imagine, a large portion of my time is spent trying to find them. If you imagine something about the size of a postage stamp or SD card that will give you a pretty good idea of the size we are dealing with. I also have investigated countless burglary calls, so have seen firsthand not only the patterns that thieves follow when searching for loot, but the patterns people follow when hiding things. I also happen to be a prepper, so in addition to needing to find stuff in my job, I understand the need for discreet storage in my personal life. I will approach this article from two ways: First, I’ll go over some of the more imaginative places I’ve seen things hidden, and hopefully share some tips and tricks that will open up more storage/hiding places for you. Second, I’ll go over some steps and methods to help you find things if you are the one looking. The better you get at finding things, the better you get at hiding them. Whether it’s hiding something quickly on your person or finding something on someone you are searching, or creating a long term cache, I hope this helps open up some new avenues to you.

Part 1- Hiding things-
So what are you hiding? I agree with JWR whole-heartedly that it is a lot harder for people to steal (or seize) what they cannot find.  Gold/silver, guns, ammo, USB drives, documents, etc. Anything of value to you.  Maybe you just need more room for your food storage.  Hiding places are truly only limited by your imagination. Shape, Shine, Shadow, Silhouette etc still apply when hiding objects as well as yourself.  This article will mainly focus on hiding areas and compartments.  So let’s begin…

ON YOUR PERSON: From the bottom up, let’s start with the shoes. Many of the new skate style shoes have a thick tongue. This tongue can be cut (along a seam) and items inserted in this. In addition the insole can be removed and items placed beneath. On crocs or even sandals, the sole can be split, filled, and glued back. On regular shoes, the sole (think where the air pocket on Nike’s is) can usually be cut and hollowed out. The heel of a shoe tends to have a lot of padding, and this provides some area to work with.  Shoes can be bought with both tongue and heel hiding places already constructed.

Obviously, anything can be tucked into a sock. For pants, the bottom cuff of pants can store items. You can also fold the cuff internally and sew or Velcro shut. Hidden pockets can be sewn anywhere on pants.  Seams are good places for these, as the thickness of the material will provide support and break up any imprint of the item, and if being patted down, the hard seam may hide the object from touch.  The edges of cargo pockets are also viable options, as well as the flap of the pocket. Most pocket flaps are double thickness, and can be opened, filled, and resealed easily. If you are doing this, make sure the objects are silenced and cant jangle against one another. Hidden storage belts are very common, and easily missed during a quick pat down.  Likewise with the back of a belt buckle or one with a removable object on the front. The same hiding places for pants also apply to shirts, with the addition of under or inside of a collar or thicker sewn in tag. For hats, inside of the sweat band, or tucked into a slit in the underside of the bill. Foam front hats can be altered in this way as well.  Belts also do not just need to be for holding your pants up.  You can tuck a gun into a belt that is worn up closer to chest level (up to your arm pits) on your body in a pinch, or have a knife taped to your inner thigh or upper hamstring area. Both the Keltec P3AT and the Ruger  LCP have available belt clips for them. The clip extends higher than the back of the pistol, so all that appears in a pocket is a clip that looks like a knife.

BICYCLES: Obviously, tires can be used as storage places.  The frames on bikes are hollow, and can be accessed from the seat, handle bar, or even crank area on some brands. Seat stems quickly remove and provide hollow storage, especially on newer bikes with quick adjust seats. You can tape items to the underside of the seat. Or buy a seat cover and keep items between the cover and the seat. On bicycles with straight grips, you can make a thin lit in the flat distal end of the rubber grip. Items can be inserted, and the hole is self-closing. Bicycle helmets are also options, with both padding that can be removed and foam to work with. Bicycles are also stolen, so be sure to guard against this and keep this in mind when using them to store items..

VEHICLES: A whole book could be written on this, and smugglers are coming up with some pretty ingenious methods. Cars are stolen, so I don’t advocate storing long term items in them (IE Guns), but there may come a time and place. Every vehicle is different. Anything with padding can be stuffed, and any dead space can be taken advantage of.  I strongly encourage you to look through your vehicle, both inside and out, top and bottom. After market tube bumpers can be filled with items. Stock  bumpers can have things tucked inside. Speakers can be removed. Again, tires can be filled. In the engine compartment, you can remove the air filter or fuse box. Or install a false fuse box. With all of the aftermarket items inside of cars now, it’s hard to tell what is stock and what is not (think about the K and N cold air filters). Get some large radiator hose and attach it to random spots in the engine compartment for some pretty secret storage. Anything that has to be bolted down is highly unlikely to be unbolted during a search, and provides a good starting point. Engines also have a lot of undercarriage armoring or protection that can be removed and used. Wheel wells usually have some storage space, and most vehicles have body panels that provide a lot of room to work with. Under a dash board, you can access vents as well as a lot of empty space. Door panels can be removed, as well as seat cushions (or slit and stuffed.)  In the glove box, there is an area under the box on the door, as well as below the dash if you remove the glove box/door fully. If you have a sunroof, the area between the glass piece and the interior padding can store things. In the console area, you can remove the plastic housing. Most ashtrays remove to empty, and provide access to a dead space behind them. The soft boot on a parking brake or manual transmission can be removed and filled. Airbags can be removed.  Dome lights can be removed and have the headliner accessed. The actual trunk portion that lifts up provides a lot of room, as do most light housing areas. Under any carpet in the vehicle.  Behind a license plate. Under a truck bed liner. Under a false floor in a tool box in the bed. Between the tool box and bed.  People can go so far as to install a smaller gas tank with a hidden compartment in the unused space.  In general, the more you can return the appearance to standard, the better. If you slit a seat, install Velcro or stitch it back up. If you lift the carpet, glue it back down. Do not leave pry marks on the dash board or door panels. Old vehicles are somewhat easier to work with, as they do a better job of disguising things as minor wear and tear.  If you have a rundown vehicle in the yard, you have more options. Park it on a buried 55 gallon drum. Remove the valve covers, hide things there, and replace them.  If the vehicle is not running, any hoses can be filled.  You can remove the wheels from a car, jack it up, put stuff where the gas tank was, then lower it down.  Let your imagination guide you.  Anything in the engine compartment will get hot and dirty.

THE YARD: With anything stored outside, be sure to weatherproof your container. Underground storage areas are very difficult to find, especially if you conceal them well. Metal detectors are becoming more commonplace, so be mindful of this. If it is a long term cache, leave it. Don’t check it every month and leave telltale signs or a path in the grass or freshly dug dirt. If you are concerned about metal detectors, place some old pipe fittings in the dirt above your cache and below the ground level. Fence tubing can be used. If building a wall, you can fill a cinder block with goods for long term storage. If you need easier access, remove a specific cap piece on top of the wall. Like wise with a 4×4 fence post.  These can be drilled nearly hollow then capped with a decorative piece.  Bird houses can be filled, or built with a false floor.  If building a raised bed garden, filled PVC tubes can be laid in the bottom. How many times have you seen people searching/looting a house dig up a garden? On a deck or play structure, any number of compartments can be fitted to the cross beams of the flooring. Don’t overlook a child’s sandbox. If you build your own, it is very simple to simply install a double floor for your goods, then fill with sand.  Old cars (see above), garden hose rolls (the roller), decorative yard art or sculptures, junked appliances, again let your imagination guide you. You can remove a brick from a wall, construct a fake brick out of floral foam that can be hollowed out, and paint to match your wall. Buy an outdoor speaker rock, and remove the guts. Hide something under your wood pile.  Be creative. Think like a kid again. Ask your kids where they would hide things.

HOME EXTERIOR: This is one of my favorites. Most people overlook the exterior of a home for any worthwhile goods. People know that spare keys are under mats, plants, etc, by the front door. On a patio/porch cover, if you have exposed beams, install new paneling pieces in the space between them. If you use spacers, you can still have exposed beams and hide the appearance of your cache. If you have a flat patio cover, you can hide a great number of items on top of it, against the roof. Have you ever looked behind the bird blocks on your roof? There is space there as well. Look at all of the pipes, vents, chimneys, etc, coming off of your roof. It would be very simple to construct a false vent pipe, sand to fit, paint to match, and no one would be the wiser.  Likewise with the random cable, phone, sprinkler controller boxes on houses now. How many does your house have? If you can’t name the number, someone looting won’t know either.  Buy an extra, set it up, and store away!
You can also landscape for success here too. Plants that drop a ton of leaves can hide a lot of ground work, and if you do bury something in a garden, it’s a great spot for your cactus collection.  Hide something inside your dog house when you build it. Or your chicken coop.
 
HOME INTERIOR: This is where it gets interesting.  Most burglaries I have seen people go through all of the usual hiding places. Drawers, cabinets, closets, nightstands, mattresses, under beds, behind pictures on the wall, book case. If something can get pushed over, its going to. So don’t hide things there. Let’s get wiser.
 
Let’s start with the laundry room. Do your cabinets go all the way to the ceiling? If not, consider a fascia piece and Velcro or screws to hold it in place. Now, they look like they go to the ceiling and you have a lot of storage. The same with a toe kick piece on the bottom of cabinets. Remove it, and reattach with Velcro, magnets, or screws.  Most cabinets also have an overhang on the bottom and top. You can fit a flush (horizontal) top or bottom and have a lot of storage. On washing machines and dryers, especially older models, there is a lot of dead space that can be accessed by removing the paneling. Obviously, be careful of what you are storing there, and the machine’s effects on it and its effect on the machine.  How many hoses and vents come off of your washer and dryer? Would a looter notice an extra 6” vent piece on the back of your dryer?  Do you use powdered laundry detergent? You can hide a lot in the bottom of a five gallon bucket of powder or large box of tide.  Same thing with bleach. Empty a bleach container, wash, dry, and fill with goods. Store in the back behind a couple other full bottles of bleach.

THE KITCHEN:  How many decorative containers do you have on the cabinets in your kitchen? Try putting food storage in them. How about under your stove?  How about in the warming drawer? What about the vent above your stove?  Remove the fascia piece on the bottom of your dishwasher? Do your cabinets have dead space around corners?  Do your counters have an overhanging lip? Could you flush mount a thin veneer under them? Some of the more amazing hiding places I have seen constructed involved water filters. One was a screw in water filter in the fridge that was hollowed out.  The other was an under the sink water filter, again, that was just the shell and had been hollowed out.  It is easy to overlook these, and if the power and water is off, its easy to excuse them not working. It Is also easy to install an extra piece or two of PVC pipe under a sink that are going nowhere. Unless you take the time to look, most will not notice an extra pipe.  How many chemicals do you keep under your sink? Can you store something in your ajax container?  How about where you store all of your plastic bags?  Be careful of hiding things in food (IE bottom of rice bucket.) Depending on how bad things are and who is doing the looting, that may be what people are looking for.  How about your pantry?  What about installing a 2 inch shelf above the door jam on the inside? How many times have you seen the wall above your closet door from the inside? Exactly….that is what makes it a great place to hide things. Depending on how small the pantry is and how high your ceiling is, you can go so far as to install a false ceiling. Because the lighting is usually different or non existent in the pantry/closet, false ceiling are a lot harder to pick out. Put a 2×4 so the 4” side is vertical on either short edge of the ceiling. Cut a piece of plywood to fit, and screw into the 2×4. 3.5” of storage space will fit most guns. Paint and texture to match. This works very well for a long term cache, when you can tape/caulk the seams, etc, and just leave it alone.  How about a decorative backsplash behind a sink or stove? Can you use one to hide a between the studs cache in the wall?  How about the inside of chandelier glass? Or screw in light covers? Add lots of dead bugs to hide any shadows cast.  How about where your ceiling fan attached to the ceiling? Or your smoke alarm? If you take them out, you have access to a lot of space under your ceiling insulation, and can put back a functioning item to hide your entrance point.  How about the dishes you have stacked up? How many coins could you tape to the bottom of your plates?

Moving on to the living room/dining room…Couches make great, but obvious places to hide things. But how about a lamp base? How about a curtain rod? How about sewn into the fold on the bottom of a curtain? Can you install a false bottom on your dining chairs? How about your dining room table? Coffee table? Are there angled support pieces in the corners?  If you do store stuff in a chair, be sure to pad the contents to keep them quiet, and do it to all of the chairs so it looks factory. How about speakers?  When looking at furniture, try to figure out where the dead space is.

Then, figure out how you can build a compartment to take advantage of it. Indoor plants are great too.  A nalgene bottle will hold a lot, and is waterproof enough to put in the bottom of a plant pot and leave under a plant and soil.

File cabinets are usually opened up, gone through, and tipped over. Most drawers are not removed. If you do remove the bottom drawer, you have some pretty good space below the drawer. An even better spot is secured to the inside of the top (above the top drawer) if the item is small enough.

Beds are common places to hide things, usually under them or in the mattress. So be different. Hollow out a bed post or leg if you have a wooden bed. Install a second piece of wood to the back of your head board to create a spot.  Dressers drawers will get pulled out and dumped out. If you must hide in a dresser, build a spot above the top drawers on the inside of the top, or to the side of the edge drawers. Take advantage of your dead space.  For bookcases, most have with a decorative fascia on the top shelf or below the bottom shelf. Don’t just hide things there. Screw a sheet of board onto it to really secure it.

Bathrooms are great too. Does your bathroom have two sinks? Use one and convert the plumbing in the other to storage. Tampon/Pad boxes are good for hiding things. How about a spare trash can with opened feminine products on top? Have a shower or bath you don’t use? What can you fit in the drain? What about in the faucet/water fixture. How about that costco sized bottle that used to have shampoo in it? What about your shower or bath itself? Do you have a seat in your shower? How about the entire frame of your bath? All of this is dead space waiting to be used. What can you attach to string or wire and put down the toilet? What about fitting things in the float ball in the toilet tank? Is there a brick in your toilet tank? Can you hollow out the bottom of the brick?
What about the closet? People look behind clothes hanging in closets. People don’t look in the pockets of clothes hanging in the closet. Or pinned under the collar of a jacket. Do you have shelves in the closet? Under the bottom shelf, up against the wall is a good place. Closets are great places to remove the base board and create a cache. You can attach it back with Velcro or magnets, but screws work better.  If your closet is wider than the door, can you build a partition against one wall? Again, if you take the time to finish it right, the lighting and presence of things in the closet will help to hide it.  Will 4” of wall space missing stand out amongst old clothes and Christmas decorations?

Attics make great places too. Under insulation is always a great option. If you have spray in insulation, it is very hard to make it look untampered with. Roll insulation is easier. With the amount of venting going around, is the searcher really going to confirm where each duct is going to? Consider adding a false duct for storage.  Bury one end in the insulation somewhere, and have the other go off into a dark corner.  Get to a corner of the attic, and screw a sheet of plywood between (not to the beams, but between) two beams to create a compartment against the roof. Basements are great places also. Think of structural dead space, and choose the nastiest, darkest corner you have. Put a cardboard box of water damaged magazines in front of it.

For true cache type hiding places, you need to think construction.  Install a new shower with a seat and take advantage of the dead space. When framing a wall, door, or window, put an extra few 2×4’s on the base plate. Drill out a space big enough for coins, USB drives, etc. Understand these are not going to be accessed easily. When installing flooring, think about a floor safe. I helped a friend build an addition onto his house. When pouring the foundation, we sank a tube safe in the concrete. It got filled, covered with Thinset, and tiled over.  Do you have a bay window? Build a seat to fill in the angle, but have the seat lift for storage. You can frame out a rectangular storage area under the hinged seat, but will still have the triangular areas on either end the are accessed by taking the whole thing apart.  Have an interior wall where insulation doesn’t matter? Replace the drywall with plywood on either side and have a great storage area between the studs. Any electrical outlet, surround sound speaker, phone jack, cable hook up is a great access point. Or install a few fake ones. Newer houses have drain access points on opposite walls from the plumbing, and these make excellent spots also.

In the garage, make things look boring. No one goes through a bin of old newspapers. Or looks in the bottom of a bucket of rusty bolts.  Or looks under the salt pellets in a water softener. Or looks under the wooden shelves you built to see the double plywood layer with storage space between.  Or dumps out the 5 gallon bucket of off color paint on clearance at home depot to find the Nalgene bottle in the bottom of it. Most commercial metal shelves have a lip on the bottom front, and you can store things under them.
One last thing is your safe. I assume you have one, it is bolted down, and kept locked. Better yet, you have a cheap throw down safe in your closet and the real one in a hidden room.  What about storing stuff under the carpet in your safe? Or on the inside edge of the lip in the front frame piece around the door, on the sides and top? If the safe is bolted to the concrete, did you put a cache in the wall it is up against? How about in the ground under it?

Another option is hollow core doors. The top can be removed, and lots of things stored inside. How about inside the decorative crown molding on the ceiling?
There is a thought that you can build armor to defeat any bullet, and can build a bullet to defeat any armor. Hiding things is like this. Someone can find any hiding spot you have given enough time and effort.  You want to make it as boring and horrible a process for them that they stop well before they find what they are looking for. If you have something hidden in the yard, put the trash can with the dog poop by it. And get a skunk to spray it. And plant a cactus by it. Make someone searching take one look at it and mentally give up before they start. People often look IN things, but rarely look AT the thing itself. Take advantage of this. People also look in places where they themselves hide things, and you can learn a lot by watching someone search. If you alter something, repair it as close to original as you can. Or alter everything the same way. Once you hide something, LEAVE IT THERE. Every time you check on it, you are creating an opportunity to leave a trail or alter something that will make it show.  Maybe today is the day your hand is dirty and will leave a hand print, or you will break a branch on the plant.  Maybe you will be in a hurry and not put things back right.

Part 2 Finding things-
Let’s start with a little on human behavior. Police are not trained to find criminals. We are trained to look for patterns, and notice when something breaks a pattern, or follows one we have already recognized. When I stop a car and the driver instantly lights up a cigarette and starts puffing away like a steam engine going uphill, I instantly think of two options. One, the person has been drinking and is trying to hide the smell of alcohol. Two, the person has a warrant, and is trying to get in a last bit of nicotine before jail. This is just from watching people over a long period of time. Next time you are carrying a gun, pay attention to how often you subconsciously touch it. When you get out of your car, when you go into a business, when you stand up, or sit down. Some people want to keep their drugs as close to them as they can. Others will do their best to stay as far away from them as they can (IE drugs are in the car, and they meet you at the trunk of the car when you stop them they are out their door so fast.) People are creatures of habit. People also tend to be lazy by nature. These two things come in handy when looking for things. When hiding things, people tend to want somewhere quickly accessible, and within reach.  When searching, people tend to get lazy, and look where they would hide things. You must be methodical and systematic. Don’t be afraid to take a break during a search for something if you find you are losing focus.

SEARCHING A PERSON:  So you are manning your LP/OP and you contact someone. In the course of the contact, they need to be searched. First, have a minimum of two people to search anyone. Safety and awareness are paramount. While one is doing the tactile portion, the second should be looking at the person’s body language, etc. A third and fourth person would ideally be providing cover.  The safest way is to have the person undress, and to go through their belongings inch by inch. This is not always possible. First, look at the person. Do you see any obvious bulges, or unevenness anywhere?  Have them interlock their fingers on the back of their head, with their pinkies up. Grasp their hands, and pull them backwards, so they are off balance. If you have the manpower, have one person hold them like this and have another search them. To search, you must touch everywhere, with enough time and pressure. You are looking and feeling or anything out of the ordinary. Go Slow. You are looking for a handcuff key under a seam of their pants or something of the like (In the academy, we were taught to look for a handcuff key. It’s the smallest thing that can kill you. Spend time with your spouse hiding a hand cuff key and trying to find it. Truly believe the person has a handcuff key or a mini SD card on them every time you search. Actively search. DO NOT GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS) IF ANYTHING FEELS OR LOOKS DIFFERENT, INVESTIGATE FURTHER! Did something crinkle? Did it not bend how it should? Go all the way up the inner thigh. Check inside the waist band. When going through clothes/shoes away from the person, look over and touch every inch. Look at the seams. Look at the thread used, the stitch pattern. Bend the item in your fingers. Take the insoles out of the shoes. Compare the two in weight.  Compare the two or the left and right side in feel.  Look at the belt buckle. Look at the belt. Look inside the hat. GO SLOW.  They sell handcuff key zipper pulls, as well as paracord bracelet clips that have them in them. VERIFY EVERYTHING, AND DO NOT ASSUME.
When searching a car, a good place to start is to sit in the driver’s seat.  Remember, people are lazy. What can you reach? Where do your hands go to when you reach under the seat?  To the visor? Under the passenger seat? Account for the dead space in the car. Look in all of the places mentioned above. Turn the wipers on. Turn the AC and heat on. Does it all work? Is the head liner loose? Are their pry marks on the door paneling? On the Dash board? Is the ashtray full or was it recently emptied? Is the CD holder full of CD’s? Look in the trunk. Look where the spare goes. Look in the actual trunk portion of the car that lifts up.

SEARCHING YARDS AND RESIDENCES
For the purpose of this article, searching means after the fact, when any gunplay is done, and you have ample time on your hands. This does not pertain to any area that is not fully secured and under your control.

As mentioned , you can see that is is nearly impossible to search every rock tree and bush. So you play the odds. Try to look, listen, and feel. Look for patterns of travel. Look for dead grass, or trimmed bushes. Look for disturbed dirt. Look for loose bricks. Look for missing cobwebs.  Listen for footsteps that sound different, or for the section of fence that sounds hollow. Or sounds dull if everything else sounds hollow.  Feel for the floral foam brick, or the loose capstone.  Divide the yard into a grid. Go through methodically and systematically. DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING, VERIFY EVERYTHING. Open the lawnbird control panel on the house. Turn the sprinklers on. Turn the hose on.

Inside of the house, account for every inch of space. Look for things that don’t fit, are not original, or were recently or frequently moved. Look for grooves and wear patterns in paint. Listen. Knock on walls, Knock on floors. Get out a stethoscope. Feel the wall texture. Turn on the sinks. Feel the pipes below while the sink is on. Is water draining where it should? Feel the ductwork with the AC or heat on.  Is air moving? If not, VERIFY why not. Do not assume.  Imagine objects are made of 1” cubes. You need to verify what each cube is or is not either by touch or sight. By both if possible. Think of a book case. This means everything within the edges of that book case is on a 1” grid. The books. The space behind the books. The shelves. Under the shelves. The wall behind it and the floor under it.  Open each book, not just one or two. When looking at containers of things, do the same thing. 1“ cubes. You can’t verify them all by looking at it from the outside. Dump them out if need be.  The person playing mouse went to great lengths to make everything as boring as possible, as disgusting as possible. They forgot to flush the toilet intentionally. They clean all their fish in the same pile for a reason.  Coincidences do not exist when you are searching for something. Get out a tape measure. Measure the ceiling height. Measure the wall length. If something doesn’t ad up, VERIFY it. Account for all structural dead space both in the house and in the objects in them.

Be mindful also of what people are searching for and what looters need. Right now, the bottom of a bucket of rice may be a good spot to hide a few coins. Food theft has not started yet. Likewise, a computer printer that may be stolen is not a wise place to hide said coins. But six months post-crunch, when the printer is a paper weight because the grid has been down and rice is as valuable as gold, the priorities for hiding places may be reversed.

I hope this article helps open up some new thoughts for you on hiding places, and finding them. When you look at your house from a different perspective, you will find limitless storage. And the better you get at finding things, the better you will be at hiding things. Search objects, not just in them.  If you are the deer hunter, look for deer from the moment you open your eyes in the morning, not just when you are in your tree stand in the woods.  If you are the deer, don’t just hide in the woods. Hide in the bushes by the front window of the hunters house, where he will pass you by before he even realizes he should be looking for you.

Letter Re: The 19 Hour Emergency Room Survival Kit

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This all fits in a one gallon Ziploc baggie (except for laptop and fleece)
 
19 hour Emergency Room and Hospital Survival Kit
 
·       Stocking cap (to shut out light and things you don’t want to see)
·       Ear Plugs (to shut out things you don’t want to hear)
·       Zip-able fleece outer wear (Wear. To control Temperature)
·       Cell phone/Smart phone/I-pad/Laptop(Obvious reasons plus recreation/distraction for self and kid(s).  Typically something you already carry)
·       Way to charge cell phone etc. (It will see much use and you will be making many calls.  The phone will gobble up charge hunting for signal if signal is weak.)
·       Card with lists of contact numbers (To save digging them out of cell phone.  You will be asked for this information several times.)
·       Lists with kid’s meds or those in family with chronic illness (Names, dosages, frequency of taking.  You will be asked at least twice a shift for this information and it is easy to screw up)
·       24 hour supply of your meds (so you don’t get goofy)
·       Aspirin/Ibuprofen/Tylenol (Whatever works for you.  ER furniture designed to torture and maim the people who sit on it.)
·       Tooth brush (obvious)
·       Change for vending machines
·       Clean pair of socks (Emotional pick-me-up)
·       Empty Ziploc bag to stow dirty socks. (The ER staff will appreciate it)
 
Note that if you are in an ER for more than 8 hours it is probably because there is not a regular room to transfer you to in the immediate area.  So your 19 hour ER stay may have a 6 hour (round trip) drive and a 2-or-3 hour admission tacked onto the end of it.

- Joe H.

Two Letters Re: Advice on Disaster Pet Euthanasia

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Hi Jim,

A couple of things worth considering for painless pet euthanasia.  This is never a pleasant subject, but:

1. Carbon monoxide poisoning.  People die of this painlessly all the time.   Prepare a setup now to connect to your vehicle exhaust (or any other gas engine exhaust) to an enclosure sized to hold your pet.

2. A person can be made unconscious simply by pressing two fingers against the juggler veins in the neck without any feeling of strangling or otherwise. It’s like going to sleep (the brain is deprived of oxygen and you black out).  A prolonged application of this will cause brain damage, of course, and eventually death.  I don’t know the specifics, but one might be able to find out by a medical person or veterinarian about application to a pet.

Sincerely, – Paul B.

JWR:
Responding to J.M.’s letter, Advice on Disaster Pet Euthanasia, I would like to say that even living on a hobby farm and dispatching chickens, turkeys, and sheep, if it came to putting one of my dogs down before a bugout it would still be difficult. Most good dog owners realize their dogs are not “just” animals, there is some degree of person-hood there that requires consideration and compassion. They’re not human beings, but they’re also not just inert, instinct-driven things either.

Trust me that euthanasia is only stressful up to the point where you actually do the deed. After that point it is a relief, and you know you did what had to be done. You move on to the next thing on the list and the grieving can wait until things settle down a bit, and it’s not an emergency any longer.

Speaking for myself, I find it enormously comforting to realize that God probably has a purpose for them beyond this life. Not sure why that’s so comforting, I guess it’s just realizing that God has a plan and He is good beyond my wildest imagination (and I can imagine a lot!).

Ponder the implications of these tantalizing Bible verses: Psalm 36:6, Psalm 50:10-11, Psalm 145:9, Proverbs 12:10, Ecclesiastes 3:21, Romans 8:21, Revelation 4 (mistranslated in most English versions as “living creature” the word is actually “animal” – the animal kingdom is represented before the very Throne of God!), and the inclusiveness of Revelation 5:13 – 14. I don’t believe that the “Lamb who was slain” will forget the lambs who were by their very being a picture of his character. I just don’t believe they will be left behind in the glory to come. And that’s an encouraging thought.

That said, for me it’s a matter of making a rational decision (usually old age or illness, so far) based on criteria that my wife and I decided on long in advance of the actual need. Make a list! And when the circumstances fit that list then decide! Follow through on that decision by doing what must now be done, suck it up, do not dwell on it or stew on it or stall – just set aside your emotions for a few minutes and focus on doing it right for your animal friend.

One thing that has been a big help for us in the past is to give our dog a dose of Acepromazine, an inexpensive, commonly-prescribed veterinary drug that we have on hand for sedating our animals during trips (and there was that one hyper dog who freaked out in thunderstorms…). If you crush the tablet (and give an overdose) then mix it with a little peanut butter you won’t have any problem getting your dog to take it, and when crushed it will take effect more quickly and more profoundly.

Being sedated, your dog will not pick up your agitation/stress/fear in the crisis situation and they’ll be easier to handle, you might even need to carry them or drag them on a rug or tarp if the sedative hits before you’re ready (might only be a minute or two). I wouldn’t try to smother a dog, it takes too long, is very hands-on, and even sedated the dog may reflexively struggle. Bleeding an animal out once deeply sedated is fairly quick (with presumably little perceived pain) with a deep cut to the neck jugular vein behind the jaw (shave off the hair, if you have time, to be able to see what you’re doing there).  

Using a firearm as James Rawles described is the quickest and most humane method, just bring enough gun – dog’s skulls can be very hard in the bigger breeds (I’d recommend being sure the bullet is entering perpendicular to their skull, or nearly so). Take your time and do it by the book. If your dog is sedated but still moving around you might need to tie them to something to safely hold their head still. (Once your dog is sedated you do not want to offer them anything else to eat or drink, so be sure you’ve got the sedative dose you want on the first try.) You do not want to botch your first shot. And make sure there’s no one downrange or anywhere a ricocheting shot might go!

If you have enough Acepromazine you may be able to give a massive overdose and they will just fall asleep and stop breathing on their own. Unless you have a stethoscope and are experienced with its use you can’t assume your dog has passed on, so once you think it’s dead you’ll need to take some additional step to guarantee that fact. They’re already dead, it’s just their dead body now, and you’re just making absolutely positive. Some paracord ought to do the trick… Our dogs depend on us, if we’re going to do it we need to get it right – they’re counting on a quick, humane death and we owe them that much.

Look, I know this is a hard, hard topic to discuss! People hate to talk about death, but we MUST! Working out the final details for your beloved companion dog will be a good conversation-starter for talking about our own deaths, and the deaths we may one day be forced into inflicting in self-defense. I’m sorry it’s so hard – ask God to help you through it with clarity and peace. Jesus, after all, knows all about death… and conquered it!

I fully expect to see my dogs around the Throne of God as well as redeemed humanity, angels, cherubs, seraphim, and however many other classes and species of sentient life God has chosen for the honor. It will be a big, noisy, slobbery reunion!

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed.” – Revelation 21:4 Amen!
 
Trust God. Be Prepared. We can do both! – ShepherdFarmerGeek in Spokane

Economics and Investing:

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CME Declares Force Majeure at Manhattan Gold Depository. JWR’s Comment: This could have been–and eventually may be–much worse. When will people ever learn? There is no proper substitute for holding precious metals in your own possession.

J.B.G. sent this news from England: People who eat doughnuts for breakfast should be charged for prescriptions, says Tory MP

Stocks dead, bonds deader till 2022: Pimco

US Power Grid Vulnerable to Just About Everything
 
Ten Reasons to be Wary of US Energy Independence Claims

Gun Shoppers Joined Other Black Friday Shoppers In Record Numbers

Items from The Economatrix:

Morgan Stanley’s Doom Scenario:  Major Recession In 2013

Argentina Rating Downgraded By Fitch On “Probable” Default

Demand For U.S. Capital Goods Climbs In Spending Rebound

Odds ‘n Sods:

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James C. sent: How To Use Mason Jars With a Blender

   o o o

Miller: Crimes of gun-grabbing mayors

   o o o

Reader V.L. suggested this: How to Use a Flashlight in a Tactical Situation

   o o o

Kevin S. liked this piece by one of my heroes, Dr. Walter Williams, wherein he explains the myth of “price gouging”: Disaster Ignorance (But of course it is important to be charitable in the midst of disasters.

Notes from JWR:

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Badger Peak has announced multiple Buy One, Give One (BOGO) product offerings to benefit Christian Reformed Outreach, South Sudan (C.R.O.S.S.). The BOGO product offerings are all of their Otis brand gun cleaning kits and all sizes of Gun Butter firearms lubricants. For each one that you buy, an identical one will be sent to distribute free of charge to villagers in South Sudan. I encourage other gear vendors to make similar BOGO matching offers. Particularly needed are earth tone or Multicam magazine pouches (AK and HK-G3), canteens with covers, hydration packs, first aid kits, wound dressings, tourniquets, rifle slings, and rifle buttstock pouches.

Today we present another entry for Round 43 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The queue is now full for this round, so any entries received will be posted in in Round 44. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A “grab bag” of preparedness gear and books from Jim’s Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 43 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Christmas Gifts for the Young Prepper, by Karyn S.

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Is everyone geared up for Christmas shopping? On the first day of Christmas my five children receive presents from their parents, grandparents, and friends and by the twelfth day of Christmas….well, the presents begin earning the label of junk, lying in the basement or being “played with” by the dog and chickens in the backyard. Every year I declare I will not buy anymore useless, plastic toys – and this year I mean it!

Lest I sound too much like the Grinch, rest assured that I love giving the kids presents. I love thinking about just the right gift for each child, wrapping the presents and hiding them from curious eyes; there’s the fun of sneaking them out to the bottom of the tree after they have gone to bed and of seeing them open them with delight. So what to do?

I have decided this year to focus our gifts on preps for the kids. I don’t think this is necessarily a ho-hum thing; most kids enjoy aspects of prepping much more than we adults who do it with a slight (or large) sense of anxiety. Kids genuinely enjoy learning new skills and “playing pioneer”.

So here are some tips on shopping for “kiddie preppers”:

1. Seed kit and gardening tools

Children have a natural fascination for watching plants sprout and gathering the harvest. A seed kit with some gardening tools can be as simple as a few packs of easy-to-grow seeds such as beans, squash, sunflowers, and pumpkins or you may want to purchase a family starter kit such as the one offered at Saint Claire’s Heirloom seeds. Horizon Herbs offers a Kidzherb kit of useful medicinal and culinary herb seeds such as basil, calendula, and lemon balm that also includes a story book with kid-friendly information, herbal fairy tales and songs, and instructions for making products such as salves and slippery elm cough drops. Books like Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots by Sharon Lovejoy offer whimsical, yet useful projects, such as “pizza gardens” and gourd tee pees. Consider purchasing kid-size garden tools like gloves, shovels, hoes, and watering cans.

2. Sleeping bags and bedding

No, I’m not talking about those flimsy sleeping bags with a cartoon princess on them; I’m talking about the real deal. Now this might not be exciting unless you promise the kids that they’ll use them on a camping trip. Another idea is a new comforter or quilt. I never seem to have enough blankets as they are often serving as forts and the kids tend to fight over the favorite ones. This way, everyone will have their own special quilt and the bedding will serve your family well should you experience a power outage or need to turn the heat down (or off) to save energy and money.

3. Bug out bag – kiddie style

First things first, get some durable backpacks. What you put in them will, of course, depend upon the age of the child, but the great thing about this gift is that you’re not only providing a gift and teaching them about being prepared, you’re also knocking out an item on your prepping to-do list. Some ideas for kid bug out bags are: flashlight, a magnesium fire starter, compass, important numbers and info on a laminated card, a deck of playing cards, nonperishable snacks like jerky and candy, small mylar blanket, small bottles of children’s pain relief and cold medicine, chapstick, wipes, straw water filter, a tin mug, and a pocketknife.

4. Non-electric games

Imagine, games without noises and glassy-eyed kids. Consider buying a durable chess set and a checkers set. Purchase Hoyle’s Rules of Games and some nice playing cards. Nowadays, decks come in quite a variety, from art masterpieces to tree identification, so you have entertainment as well as sneaking some education in. Other classics to consider are Scrabble, Sorry, and Clue. For the younger crowd, there are concentration games like Memory, Connect Four, and alphabet or number games. I would suggest something like Candyland but you might be stressed enough and yet another round through the Peppermint Forest might have you banging your head on the wall.

5. Survival fiction books

Fiction books are a great way to introduce morals and valuable skills without seeming to lecture. In books such as My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George, Sam not only learns survival skills such as making fishing hooks, building a shelter in a hollow tree, and making clothing from deer hide, he also learns lessons about courage, independence, and making peace with solitude. Likewise, Brian in Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet series learns how to gather edible plants and build a raft from driftwood, but he also learns about self-discipline and perseverance. Other titles include the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, and Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare.

6. Knot games

One of the most useful skills to learn, and one of the easier ones for nimble, little fingers, is knot tying. Companies such as Ramco produce a game wherein the players match the knots on the cards, with each card being worth a certain number of points based on difficulty and Think Fun Knot So Fast has players trying to tie the knots the quickest. There are also numerous how-to books available.

7. Books on wild edibles, traps, and nature skills

Help your children begin to develop a prepping library of their own. A great start is Tom Brown’s Field Guide: Nature and Survival for Children. What I like about this book is that it includes the more usual information – shelter building, wild edibles, first aid – but it also covers nature awareness and “lostproofing”. For example, it includes exercises for training kids in better orientation in nature. Other books to consider are wild food books like Linda Runyon’s or Euell Gibbons’s (for sheer enthusiasm), first aid books, Boy Scout books (usually available for cheap at thrift stores), and books about Native Americans (such reading inspired the likes of Eustace Conway – “the last American man”).

8. Tools

As mentioned above, child sized tools can encourage an early love for gardening. Likewise, consider giving your child useful tools such as basic woodworking and handy tools. When my son got into Survivor Man, we purchased a multitool and, as he got older, he saved up his money to buy a Gerber survival knife and a hatchet. These have provided great lessons in knife safety and tool care. Along these lines, consider buying basic, but high quality, cooking ware and utensils. Tools such as these not only provide a back-up set for your family while your child is young, they will serve as a good “start up” for your child when he moves out on his own.

9. Beginner’s arms

After the popularity of The Hunger Games, it wouldn’t be hard to talk your teen into learning some bow skills. Decent quality bows can be found online or even consider making a self bow. Consider introducing your kids to BB guns as practice for target shooting and for use of larger firearms in later years. Early introduction to bows and rifles help kids better understand the uses and safety rules of such items. In addition, consider purchasing sling-shots or the material for putting together traps and snares.

10. Gift cards

No, not gift cards to the big box stores or for more electronics. I’m talking about cards or passes that give your child an experience, hopefully with a survival slant. For instance, consider buying passes to the national parks and camping grounds. Or lessons in basic knitting, cooking, quilting, or pottery. My town has a rock climbing gym and lessons would encourage physical activity while teaching the kids courage, problem-solving, and determination. Even buying some music lessons would provide the kids with the opportunity to learn an entertainment skill that doesn’t require electricity (think of Pa Ingalls with his fiddle).

11. Craft kits

There are kits galore to help kids of all ages (and their parents!) get started with a useful skill. A quick check online will offer up kits for beginning sewing, quilting, knitting, woodworking, and leather working.

12. Livestock

For the really ambitious, another gift option is a “start up kit” for livestock. Ready made coops and chicks can be purchased via Craigslist (or online if you really want to pay a lot). Better yet, select a kid-friendly book on chicken raising, gather the necessary materials for building a coop, and purchase necessary equipment like waterers and feeders. In this way, you can spend the winter months building the coop and preparing for chicks in the spring. Other options to consider are worms, bees, or rabbits. While I don’t have experience with the last two, I can attest that worm “farms” for composting definitely have a degree of grossness that attracts little kids!

So here’s the challenge this year. Instead of plunking down that hard-earned money to buy some junk made in a country with dubious government policies only to have that junk clutter up your house later on, consider replacing at least some of those purchases with gifts that will truly benefit your family. Help your kids add to their own preps as well as their prepper skill set.