Notes for Thursday – August 27, 2015

Today, we present another entry for Round 60 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $10,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
  2. 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,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools, and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul pmags 30rd Magazines (a value of $300) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. (An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A Model 120 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $340 value),
  7. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  8. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  9. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  10. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. The Ark Institute is donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  4. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  5. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  6. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  7. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
  10. Safecastle is providing a package of 10 Lifestraws (a $200 value).

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. 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,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Precision Rest (a $249 value), and
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 60 ends on September 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.

The Least Expensive Way Out – Part 1, by L.J.

I’m writing to give alternative ideas for those of us who have less money. The basic idea is to spread out your funds to be able to factor in prepping costs. Now I don’t know how much money you get, but if you’re really dedicated you should be able to reach a reasonable conclusion which allows you to invest in prepping needs while also having enough for daily living; maybe you can set aside 4% of your monthly income for prepping. It gives you plenty for your prepping needs but also allows sufficient funds for your everyday needs. Now that was just an example, but you should be able to decide based on your own thoughts and paycheck. So I’ve came up with a few topics that should arouse some interest because of their necessity. These are the things that you will most likely want to have around. Notice that all of the categories are listed in their relative importance, depending of course on the disaster.

1. Water

You’ll need a large quantity of water, which fortunately is usually pretty easy to come by. The trick is to use empty containers that could be recycled to meet your purposes. Empty 2-liter soda bottles work nicely; they’re cheap and can deal with a good deal of harassment before they burst. A good place to store them is in old milk crates, which can be stacked in a garage. The average person should drink 1.9 liters per day, so be sure to stock up on more water than you think you’ll need. A good thing to keep in mind when storing water is that you’ll never have enough water no matter how much you have. Don’t forget water for washing clothes and dishes. You’re going to need a water filtration system once you run out of your water supply, so consider saving your pennies and buying a durable water filter. Water collecting is a fairly simple task; all it really requires is a tarp and a container. Suspend the tarp on four poles over the container and poke a hole in the tarp then wait for the rain. Remember you’ll probably never have enough water stored, so keep collecting.

2. Food

Food is a little more difficult to stock up on because you’ll need to make sure to rotate it so it doesn’t go bad, unlike water which has a virtually unlimited shelf life. So get yourself a notebook and write dates down so you can rotate the food properly. The types of food I recommend are the kinds that can be saved for at least six months. Make sure you stock up on the kinds of food you enjoy or want to acquire a taste for. It’s not good to have two dozen disgusting meals that get wasted. There are three types of foods that are ideal for storing– MREs (meals ready to eat), dehydrated foods, and canned goods. MREs at sometimes three bucks a piece are a good idea because of their easy use. Or if you want you can save up and for $4,000 get a year’s supply of MREs. However, I only recommend that if you’re prepared in all other aspects. Dehydrated foods on the other hand can be saved for over 20 years. Canned goods are so inexpensive for a great amount of food, and most of them have a two year shelf life. Each type of food has its own pros and cons. MREs are rather inexpensive and have a vast variety of flavors, while dehydrated foods last for an incredible amount of time without spoiling. Then, lastly there are the canned foods, which in my opinion are the best choice because they can be bought at pretty much any store, along with the fact that they can be stored much easier than the other two. Plus, they’re super inexpensive! Now, don’t forget about proper food storage, because there’s no point buying a ton of non-perishables if it ends up getting damaged. What you should do is get some plastic garbage bins with lids; then fill the bins with your food and duct tape the lid back on. Then you just need to find a cool place to store them. Also, when shopping, don’t forget condiments like salt, pepper, and other seasonings, especially salt. You might want to get some plastic forks and spoons, unless you want to end up eating soup with your fingers. Make sure you keep rotating!

3. Fire starters

Fire is up there in the top three needs, when preparing for major disaster after food and water, because though it isn’t an absolute necessity it is quite helpful in many ways. For starters, lighters are a relatively inexpensive way to start a fire, but if they get too wet then they’re going to be most likely useless, so be sure to store them in a waterproof container. My personal favorite fire starter is a mini BIC lighter, because they’re easy to carry and store; keep in mind their smaller size means less times that they can be used. The bigger BIC lighter are really good too, though it’s a bit strange to carry them in your pocket all of the time, but they’ll be very useful in every other aspect. Sometimes lighters come with little child locks on them, which sometimes makes them harder to use, but they can be removed if you stick a nail or a knife blade underneath the lock and pry it off. Don’t worry if it’s done right, it won’t damage the lighter in any way. Now matches on the other hand are a lot of fun, if you get the right ones. Strike anywhere matches are much harder to find but are much more useful, because they don’t need sandpaper to strike on. When you get matches, check to see if they’re waterproof. If not, you can waterproof matches by melting wax then dipping the tips in it. Then, when you’re ready to use them, just scrape off the wax. Be sure to store them properly, too. Then, there’s a fire piston. It’s much more versatile than the others but harder to use. A fire piston consists of a hollow cylinder sealed at one side and a piston with a handle in one end and indented in the other end, where it forms an air tight chamber so when a piece of cloth or dry grass is placed in the indentation on the piston and rammed into the cylinder it causes the air to compress and creates a sharp increase in temperature in the tube (approximately 500 degrees Fahrenheit) causing the tinder to catch, which then can be transferred to a tinder pile. Be sure to remove the piston quickly or else the tinder will use up the oxygen in the tube. Then, lastly, there’s flint and steel. The idea is kind of simple; strike the steel against the flint and direct the sparks into a pile of tinder. (Barbeque lighter fluid is helpful with this.) Some accelerants are helpful when starting a fire with wet wood. Isopropyl or denatured alcohol, and lighter fluid are all easily-used accelerants. [Editor’s Note: Of course NEVER use gasoline. The vapors are explosive and it is simply too dangerous–even when used in tiny amounts!] Be careful not to get any on yourself when you’re lighting a fire. Third degree burns are not fun in a bug out situation. Accelerants are just about useless without wood, so get plenty of it.

4. Medical Equipment

Medicine is very helpful to have to fight various diseases without relying completely on your immune system. Get pills if possible, since they last longer and are easier to store. Good types of medications are ibuprofen, Nyquil and Dayquil, and benadryl. Oral health is almost as important. Toothbrushes and toothpaste are highly needed because it’s going to be hard to deal with cavities and infections. So you should probably take extra care of your teeth. Don’t forget floss; it’s one of the most useful items I’ve come across. Floss can be used for sewing and for lashing sticks together, and it’s also clean (but not sterile), so in extremis you can sew gashes and wounds shut with it. I’ll bet you didn’t know that toothpaste can be used for bug bites. Just apply the toothpaste on the wound and then wrap it. For burns, cool the burn with water and then add then add aloe vera. What you need is a little case in which to store all your first aid stuff. The types of things that should be put in a first aid kit are: Band-Aids, antiseptic wipes, Neosporin, pain relievers, needles and thread, and rubbing alcohol, which also makes a great fire starter. Keep your first-aid kit in a dry place and out of the reach of children.

Letter Re: Can the States Seize Control of Federal Lands

James and Hugh,

I’m referencing the 22 August article “Can the States Seize Federal Lands?“.

First, they are NOT Federal Lands; they are State Lands being occupied by the Fed, mostly illegally. The U.S. Constitution is quite clear on how the Fed MAY purchase State Lands (Article I, Section 8, Clause 17) in a specifically limited quantity, for only necessary functions of the Fed, and MUST have the agreement from the State Legislature in question.

Second, as decided by the Supreme Court of the U.S., “A State is created in Statehood, instantly and whole”, (paraphrased). To wit: not created in bits and pieces determined by the lesser Federal Government but as a Sovereign, whole State. An example, other than the Eastern States, is Hawaii, the last to achieve statehood. When the State of Hawaii became a Sovereign State, the Federal Government was invited to pack up all except the established needed Lands for Federal operation and go home to D.C., which they did, as that was the prerogative of Hawaii. Look at Nevada @ approx. 92% Federal control; New Mexico @ 35% Federal control; each of the other Western States have their own % “occupied”, except Hawaii, as noted.

The Federally claimed lands, which the Federal Agencies DO CLAIM to be “owners of”, are literally squatters, usurpers of state lands, with rarely any legal standing at all. The gross record of mismanagement, by BLM and the USFS in particular down through the years and peaking in the last 10 or so years, is a story to shame any bureaucrat. Makes little or no difference to the Feds, but a State is the annual loser in both income and quality of the lands destroyed and mismanaged.

The people that are the “front line losers” are the rural people trying to produce and maintain state lands, which are occupied by the Fed and the source of clearly defined, recorded, studied mismanagement as well as some of the worst legal harassment of any businesses in this country. The problem there is that NO MEDIA gives a hoot about a bunch of farmers and ranchers out in the middle of nowhere. Who cares? If the public was aware, the howl to “get the bums out (BLM & USFS)” would be impressive.

There is so much more involved, but I won’t belabor the point unless there is need for further explanation. The States, which are sovereign OVER the Fed that they created, have been far too lax and too blackmailed by Federal tax dollars being handed out to stand up for states rights, which they have in too many cases handed to the Federal government. The states are literally the owner of a business being told what to do by the help. – E.C.

Economics and Investing:

Devaluation Stunner: China Has Dumped $100 Billion In Treasurys In The Past Two Weeks – GJM

o o o

Plunge Protection Team Losing Control of Markets-Jim Sinclair – B.B.

o o o

China’s economy, the world’s second largest economy only behind the USA, is tanking…

The Chinese are very well known for being hard-as-nails and sticking to the course, no matter how hard. When we see them capitulate and make a major move (panic?) in devaluing their currency, coupled with lowering their interest rates, we have to believe things are far worse than we know, and certainly worse than what our government would ever say, given that the Chinese tide also floats our boat these days.

There are stormy seas ahead, and it’s time to trim the sails and batten the hatches. Here is an article than may be of interest…The Truth about Currency Devaluation and Preparedness – S.E.

o o o

CONDITION RED: The Financial System Is Now Out Of Control

o o o

Why Saudi Arabia Won’t Cut Oil Production

Odds ‘n Sods:

San Francisco Hygiene Goes Full Medieval? ( Caution – Silicon Valley’s New World Ordure ) My two cents: This a ticking cholera or dysentery time bomb. Get OUT of the major cities. – T.P.

o o o

A 21st-Century Migrant’s Essentials: Food, Shelter, Smartphone – P.S.

o o o

Getting Out Of Dodge. One Couples Story. – J.M.

o o o

Wranglerstar discusses some of his latest controversies, but these have some real relevance to those families who are planing on sharing a retreat with others. There are some serious things that should be discussed beforehand. The Great YouTube Sack Lunch Drama

o o o

You were wondering how your teenager managed to get lice? Are selfies to blame? – D.S.

Notes for Wednesday – August 26, 2015

August 26, 526, is the official anniversary of the invention of toilet paper by the Chinese. We celebrate this, though not because of its convenience. In fact, it has many shortcomings, some which are described within the articles and letters of SurvivalBlog. Our celebration of it is primarily because we now have an official metric of just how hard core of a prepper you are as well as a metric for just how economically unstable your country is.

August 26, 1946 is also the official release date of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”

o o o

Today, we present another entry for Round 60 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $10,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
  2. 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,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools, and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul pmags 30rd Magazines (a value of $300) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. (An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A Model 120 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $340 value),
  7. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  8. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  9. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  10. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. The Ark Institute is donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  4. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  5. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  6. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  7. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
  10. Safecastle is providing a package of 10 Lifestraws (a $200 value).

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. 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,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Precision Rest (a $249 value), and
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 60 ends on September 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.

Survival Journal, by Harley

Hi, I am a journeyman, millwright, and electrician by trade and do a lot of fabrication for the companies I work for. I also have 20+ years as a contractor, building houses. Additionally, I am an avid artist and a survivalist.

The basic principle of a survival journal is almost exactly as it sounds. I say almost, because there is a bit more to it than just a simple journal. I will give my general journal layout and some of my reasons for adding certain things. First off, I will give some description of what kind of book I currently use.

The Book Itself and How It Started

I found a leather bound standard 4″x6″ drawing pad for my use. Any book would work depending on your preference, be it a write-in-the-rain book or lined tablet; it doesn’t really matter what you choose, though I would try to stick to something small for a lighter weight and easier carrying ability. I even went so far as to make a pouch for mine out of leather so I can put it on my belt and have easy access to it when out. It is a constant work in progress. Revised and expanded as I learn new things, think of other tidbits to put into it, and add other techniques. The book is also quite disorganized at the moment, and will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future.

My survival journal started out as a guide to my wife and children, with as much of my knowledge written in it that I could think of, in the event of my inability to be around in the case of a SHTF scenario, or for any reason where they may need to know certain things. I agree that practicing skills with your loved ones should be the primary method of passing on information and I do, but a written history definitely has its advantages. The most important reason is that people forget things under the best of circumstances let alone in high stress situations. On the other hand, it is good for you as the writer/survivalist to write these things down as the actions are performed to positively reinforce them as they are happening. As you are trying new things, add them to the book. Include what works best for tinder, thatching for a shelter, or cordage for fishing; the best part is, it will be the specific resources of your region and area. In the end, it becomes the tailored survival guide for where you live. I speak of the wilderness survival aspect at the moment, but by no means does it have to be (or should be) limited to this. I live near the outskirts of a small town of about 3,000 people. This town contains plenty of businesses with useful items in them, as well as a ton of wooded area within and around four counties and larger cities about 30 miles away, so there will definitely be urban and wilderness survival mixed together. So on to the meat and potatoes of the content, and why certain things are added and embellished upon.

The Plan

In the beginning of the journal, I lay out the various bug out plans. Considering these would be used in the most extreme cases, I want them clearly written and available with instructions of where to go, estimated times it should take to get there, and numerous contingencies for consideration, load limits of my immediate family, and means of travel, whether by foot, car, boat, or bike. There is so much information that I could put into the plan, it could take hours to write it all down. In another section, I also cover bugging in, which doesn’t change too much of the living conditions in the beginning.

The Skills

This section takes into consideration the various elements involved in standard situations, specifically the environment and opsec. Given the area I live in, there are both urban and wilderness skills to be learned. The skills section covers but is not limited to trapping, skinning, primitive fire starting, tech fire starting (batteries and uncommon methods), water procurement, camouflage, and stalking. Basically, if it deals with learned skills needed to generally survive, I try to put it in here. The skills are a generalized set that would basically work in most any situation. There are many other survival sets that are covered and that will be expanded upon.

Weapons and Tools, including Field Expedient

This is my expertise. I began making weapons at the age of 12; though they were crude and mostly weak, they were generally functional. Over the years they have grown to be a bit more impressive, pretty, and extremely functional. Some of my most recent creations are two tantos– one that has a completely hand carved handle and sheath of mahogany for my late grandfather and one for my father with a tsuba of solid carved silver. A few more of my creations include a Viking axe for my best friend and the construction of two bows, which is relatively a new learned skill of only a few years. Teaching myself to build bows and arrows was a direct outcome of wanting to know how to create one of the oldest projectile weapons. Though i am still in need of fine-tuning the skill, they are definitely functional. Fom a weapon or tool perspective, function is the most important part, followed directly after by hardiness. At some point in my youth I found I had the ability to tell where the weak spot in any weapon/tool is and to use that to develop better designs and forms. This ability has helped tremendously over the years, and I can build pretty much all I need. In my journal I cover making every feasible weapon, trap, and tool I can think of that will be of use, though there are still quite a few that I haven’t added yet because of current time constraints. The basic principle of this section is to show hand-drawn instructions on how to complete a tool from start to finish with techniques and also the best materials to use.

Shelter, Water, Fire, Materials and Hunting

Here I show how to make various shelters, debris huts, lean tos, and teepees, and I include insulation methods and even how to lash it all together to be the most effective. I also cover how to make a water filter, trap water, how long to boil it, and where to get the freshest water in my area. The fire section has all the various methods of creating fire, including how to set up the fire bundle, birds nest, self-feeding fires, and the pit itself. The last bit on materials, hunting, and fishing is a bit more interesting in terms of content. The hunting part is pretty straight forward, all said and done. Then you get into how to skin and process the various animals where I live and prepare the meat. Also, this section is where the materials part comes into play, from the making of fishing gear including cordage to catch your first fish, which in turn is used to create objects like needles and more hooks, to using the skins and bones in animals to make even more gear. There is even a section in here that explains how to knap a knife from stone, make a fishing/frog spear, and tan a hide for clothing and shelter, though if I did my job right and the plan was followed, there shouldn’t be a need for a lot of this primitive gear for quite awhile, unless something breaks.

Urban Survival

The urban survival section goes into pretty good detail for dealing with the trouble and unique issues of an urban setting. I try to encompass the local businesses in respect to a SHTF scenario. As in what to get from where, what to look out for, methods of moving around a city to shorten exposure to unwanted attention, and how to access certain buildings. At this stage, the focus is on scavenging useful items and supplies while there is still stuff to be had. [Editors Note: It is important to remember – unless you know for sure that what you are taking does not already belong to someone else, it is not scavenging, it is stealing and you may be severely hurting someone else’s ability to survive. In addition, while scavenging may be necessary at times, the risk to you goes up exponentially during those times.] Considering the ease of access to all of the amenities of our modern age in an urban setting, tools and weapons are not really an issue, though I do go through finding ammunition in abandoned houses and other items of interest. Toothpaste, toilet paper, clothing, hygiene products, medicine, and pots and pans are a huge bonus if you are trying to survive anywhere. You can’t really pick those up in the woods. (Yeah, I know there are alternatives to most of these in the wilderness.)

There is so much more that you could put into your journal, depending on your personal preferences. I have intentionally left out foraging for edible plants because my skill/knowledge of it is severely lacking at this point. My plans are to change that in the near future and to teach that to my wife and children as well. I am by no means an expert on most of these subjects (though my study of historical weapons has surpassed 20 years) and I make no allusions to being such. I am simply a student and teacher to my own little group. I am a craftsman of pretty good skill and a seeker of knowledge, which will help me and mine not just survive but thrive. Every little bit helps in the end, and if there is a way to continue to teach, even if i am no longer around, then I owe it to my children and my wife to try everything I can to accomplish that task. The easiest way that I have found so far is to have a history of my trials and successes, which I call my survival journal.

Letter Re: Cold Steel Voyager-JWR Edition

Hugh and Capt. Rawles,

I’ve been following SB.com for about three years now after reading How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It. That book and others opened me up to the insanity surrounding us, and I suddenly felt sadly under-prepared.

Since then I’ve trolled the web, bookstores, and gun shows for tools to help me protect my family. My enthusiasm can probably be attributed to wanting to ensure my two little girls never have to suffer through the times depicted in Jim’s works of fiction. I have held out, for the most part, from purchasing any item that is endorsed or otherwise marketed by “person A” or “organization B”, as I’ve found that many of those items are single-use tools.

A knife, however, has many uses, and I can be accused of being a collector of bladed implements. So I decided to add the Voyager to my collection. I have only one good, solid blade with me on the ship, so a backup seemed logical. Being on deployment, the speed at which it would arrive was a bit of a question for me. I was very impressed by the speed at which it arrived to my hands on the ship, less than two weeks.

As for the knife itself; it’s simple, solid, and a whole lotta blade for the buck. While showing it off to the other guys in my unit, one of them suffered a small cut from closing the blade. That’s how sharp it ships from Cold Steel. I personally enjoy how you can get a comfortable grip close to the hinge point or down by the pommel. It is a little large as folders go; however, should you need this guy, size probably will not be a big concern.

All-in-all, it’s a great piece to add to your kit, and I’m already quite glad to have it out here as one of my many tools should things go badly. – F.M.

Economics and Investing:

7 million college debtors have yet to make a single student loan payment in last year. The college debt bubble grows.

o o o

Interest rates to remain ‘stuck’ at 5000 year-old levels Has the great correction begun? Time will tell. It’s mathematically impossible for the system we have to keep growing as it is; common sense tells a person this. Either way the prudent prepare as Joseph did in Egypt long ago. – A.S.

o o o

Gold Facts and Gold Speculations

o o o

Wikipedia Lists Today As One of Largest Intraday Point Swings, 1,089.42 Points Between The Intraday High And The Intraday Low

o o o

Items from Mr. Econocobas:

Market Talk Suddenly Turns to Specter of QE4

Reader’s Recommendations of the Week:

Hi Hugh,

Reading Carol Deppe’s book, I realized I needed to read:

Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden Gilbert L. Wilson, Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1987

The Hidatsa grew corn, beans, squash, sunflowers near the Missouri River in ND. Clearly, they were able to feed themselves without tractors or mules! They very efficiently processed and saved their corn, beans, squash, sunflower seed. The book takes one through a typical year and is rich in describing their culture, songs, stories, ceremonies, recipes, and way of life. The first edition was published in 1917. Buffalo Bird Woman was born around 1839.

One review from Foster’s Botanical and Herb Review: “every gardener and agricultural scientist should find gems of practical wisdom in these pages, borne from an age-old tradition when sustainable agricultural practices…made the difference in sustaining life. Fascinating!”

Odds ‘n Sods:

Got an old Radio Shack brand scanner? Here are the manuals and instruction data for them. Free.

Some scanners allow for modifications. You can search those out on the web by searching for the model and modifications that can be done, if you are so motivated. – RBS

o o o

Man Indicted For Shotgun Blasts At Hovering Drone – D.S.

o o o

Wolverines! The danger may not be from where you expect. – W.C.

o o o

Man’s Concrete Home Survives Raging Wildfire in Washington – A.W.

o o o

Utah boy survived night in woods by curling up in warm rocks – J.C.
There was a time in our history when this would not have been unusual.

Hugh’s Quote of the Day:

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech,
and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language,
where their voice is not heard.
Their line is gone out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun” (Psalm 19:1-4)

“For some, the star filled sky is only ambient light. To the professorial-secularist who peers through telescopes and patronizes the planetarium, seeking to see what stars are made of, not their Maker; they completely miss the mark. For others, stars are merely a magical twinkle, simply inspiring them to wonder what they are. But for the person more concerned with one day meeting his Maker, more concerned with his fallen state than falling stars, their declaration of glory is great news. The stars are a sign that gently whispers that we’re not forgotten and that our Deliverer wants us to look to Him for hope.”

Bastion of Liberty – Simply Stellar

Notes for Tuesday – August 25, 2015

August 25th is a birthday shared by novelist Frederick Forsyth (born 1938) and American humorist Patrick F. McManus (born 1933). Forsyth was the author of The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File, The Fourth Protocol, The Dogs of War, The Devil’s Alternative, and many others. McManus was born and raised in Sandpoint, Idaho, so his books could be classified as American Redoubt humor. When I met Pat a few years ago, Pat very kindly autographed my entire battered collection of his books. Some of these books had been so well-loved that the pages were falling out of their bindings. I suppose that is the ultimate compliment for an author. – JWR

o o o

Today, we present another entry for Round 60 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $10,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
  2. 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,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools, and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul pmags 30rd Magazines (a value of $300) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. (An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A Model 120 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $340 value),
  7. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  8. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  9. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  10. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. The Ark Institute is donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  4. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  5. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  6. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  7. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
  10. Safecastle is providing a package of 10 Lifestraws (a $200 value).

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. 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,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Precision Rest (a $249 value), and
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 60 ends on September 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.

Learning How to Grow Food in the American Redoubt, by AJ

What happens when our food preparations run out? This question has kept me awake more nights than I care to remember. Whatever your scenario– economic collapse, electromagnetic pulse (EMP), pandemic, a nuclear attack, or another devastating TEOTWAWKI situation– there will be a point when food becomes scarce. Learning to grow and preserve our own food will become necessary at some point, and the time to learn these essential skills is now.

I literally “woke up” one day, after months of digging deeper into the alternative media in an attempt to explain why I had this feeling that something was incredibly wrong. I became convinced that we are long past due for an economic collapse that will far surpass what occurred during the Great Depression. We were living in Hawaii at this time, and I knew that any disruption to shipping services would result in massive food shortages (and chaos) in a very short amount of time. I knew it was time to relocate.

I dragged my family to American Redoubt just under four years ago. The spring we arrived in our new home in Idaho I immediately began to teach myself everything possible about growing food in our new environment. To say there was a learning curve is an understatement. Like most Americans, I had never grown any of my own food. As I look back, I realize just how vulnerable my family and I were, being completely dependent upon a rapidly disintegrating system.

Brrrrrrrrrrr….

The biggest challenge to growing in this region, just like many other northern locations, is the short growing season. My current location is a located in a USDA hardiness zone 6b. Hardiness Zones in the majority of the American Redoubt range from around Zone 7a (the warmest, longest growing season) to 3a (the coldest, shortest growing season).

Season-extending solutions, like raised beds, plastic-covered grow tunnels, and materials (black plastic tarps and clear greenhouse plastic) placed directly on the soil to warm it sooner, can be used to lengthen the amount of time you can grow during relatively cold seasons. There are also seeds, many of which originated in Russia, Canada, Alaska, or other extreme northern climates, that are specifically bred for short growing seasons. I always look for these varieties, because I figure if they will grow in the aforementioned harsh climates then they should thrive in my climate.

One of the most important things about growing food in a short-season environment is food preservation. This will be absolutely necessary for food independence in a long-term survival scenario. I am currently using a homemade solar food dehydrator with Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers to preserve our excess produce. Of course, old-fashioned canning techniques are also a great way to preserve enough food for the region’s long, cold winters.

Where to Begin

Organic and heirloom varieties will produce seeds that you can preserve for future crops, unlike some of the bio-engineered hybrids. Also, the crops I have chosen can be grown and harvested in an off-grid situation. Although I would love to grow fields of wheat, I assume that we will not have access to a tractor in any number of scenarios.

Potatoes

I love potatoes. They grow like weeds with very little maintenance. I have had the most success with Russet, although Yukon Gold and the red Sangria have also done well. Of course, storage of this great food source is key, but if saved properly you will have well-acclimated seed potato for the following season’s crop. I also know I can grow potatoes during all seasons except the winter. This is an essential food source in a TEOTWAWKI situation that will store well and provide much-needed calories.

In many parts of the American Redoubt, if you start them early enough in the spring, you should be able to grow two crops of potatoes by the time the ground freezes in late fall. You will know when you can start the first crop by using a soil thermometer. The soil temperature should be no less than 50 degrees F. You can pick smaller potatoes throughout the season by feeling under the plant. You will know the plant is mature once it starts to brown and die off. Leave the potatoes for a few weeks after the plants die off to get the skins thicker for storage in a root cellar or basement.

Sweet Potatoes?

Yes, it is possible. Growing sweet potatoes in a plant hardiness zone 5 or 6 is not easy, but this nutrient-dense food source is worth the hassle. The key to success is warm soil and protecting them from frost. I have grown them in black collapsible grow buckets in an unheated greenhouse in the summer, as well as unheated plastic-covered tunnels placed over raised beds. They are very cold sensitive, so I tend to plant them the first week of June. They love compost, so pile it on. I have had success with shorter-season varieties, like Beauregard and Georgia Jet.

More Zucchini and Squash, Please

It must be something in the soil, but the zucchini and squash grow faster here than any other vegetable. They also mature very early in the season. We pick many pounds of zucchini and yellow squash each week from just three plants. Acorn and Butternut squash also grow well here, although these plants tend to take longer to mature. The zucchini and yellow squash dehydrate very easily, even in my homemade solar dehydrator. Butternut squash, if properly cured, will last months in a root cellar or basement.

Tomatoes and Cucumbers

I have tried over twenty varieties of tomatoes in order to discover the best cold-tolerant varieties for my growing region. I have had great luck with the Black Prince, a cold-weather Russian variety. I like Glacier, also a smallish variety that can be started very early in the season. For the bigger tomatoes, I like the Oregon Spring and Manitoba, for their short-season growing and dependability. I also intertwine cucumbers with my tomatoes, because they also thrive when growing up a simple A-frame trellis.

This year I have also added tomatoes that dehydrate well. These include Mountain Magic and the Matthew Tomato varieties. Tomatoes will grow here from late spring (unprotected) until early fall, so there is quite a long period of time that tomatoes can be grown without a well-heated (and energy-sucking) greenhouse.

Watermelons and Cantaloupe

These are not usually high on the survivor crop list, but if you have the space to grow watermelons and cantaloupe they might be an unusual barter item or a great way for your family to fight food fatigue. The Blacktail Mountain Watermelon was developed in this region and thrives even in our colder night temperatures. The smaller Sugar Baby Watermelon matures in 80 days, so they are not too much of a problem, if you start the plants in spring and transplant them in the early summer. The Minnesota Midget Melon is a cantaloupe that matures very quickly, but once again this melon will do better if you start it in a heated greenhouse mid-spring and then transplant in early summer.

Grains

This year we are also growing amaranth and quinoa, to see how they perform as grains in our climate. Quinoa can be cooked or ground into flour, so it has big implications for food independence. The catch is that this crop can take up to 120 days to mature, but since it can be planted when the soil reaches 50 degrees Fahrenheit, this can be grown throughout a large portion of the American Redoubt. Amaranth is a brightly colored plant that produces seeds that are high in protein and nutrients that can be cooked like rice or popped like popcorn. This plant shouldn’t be planted until the soil temperature is at least 65 degrees, most likely late spring. Don’t expect these plants to be ready to harvest until fall, since they take at least 100 days to mature.

I have had mixed success growing corn in this region, especially sweet corn. The catch with corn is that each plant only provides a very limited amount of food. Depending on how much area you have to grow, you might not find corn to be worth the space it will need to provide high enough yields. I have had more challenges with diseases and pests in corn than any of the other crops I mention. That said, this can be an important source of food in a SHTF scenario, so working out the bugs (literally) now will help in your efforts toward long-term food preparedness.

Beans

How prepared could we be without the “B” for beans? My experiments with black, pinto, red kidney, and garbanzo beans have all met with relative success. The black and pinto beans are by far the most productive in my climate and soil conditions. These plants grow quickly and produce surprisingly high yields. The red kidney beans produce but not in the volume of the black and pinto beans. The garbanzo only produce minimally and are probably not worth the effort when you can get far more beans from the other varieties.

These beans preserve for about a year in a jar with a tight lid, if they are kept out of the light.

Berries

Strawberries grow very well in our plant hardiness zone. For a continuous supply, we have everbearing varieties, which produce an early season and late season crop, and a mid-season variety. Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are very productive in our area and are perfect preservation food when made into jam.

Apples, Peaches, and Pears

What long-term survival plan would be complete without some fruit trees? The variety of tree will be very dependent on your climate zone, so it is best to seek out a reputable nursery in your area. We have chosen dwarf varieties, because they provide fruit sooner and are smaller and thus easier to harvest. If you do decide to plant trees, it is best to do so immediately, given that these trees take years to produce fruit. (Our dwarf McIntosh apple tree we planted three years ago is just now producing apples.)

Cold-weather Sustenance

Cold-weather vegetables are perhaps the easiest to grow throughout much of the American Redoubt. You should be able to grow many varieties of these crops throughout a large part of the year, especially if you employ season-extending techniques when it gets colder. These vegetables benefit tremendously with the raised boxes, row covers over the actual crops, and hoops attached to the boxes covered by thick (6 mil) greenhouse plastic film. This should keep the soil temperature raised much higher than outside the tunnel, prevent the soil from freezing, and protect from frost damage for a large part of the fall and some of the winter.

Since most people in the American Redoubt can easily grow cold-weather crops, many varieties of these plants should prove successful. I have tried many types of swiss chard, spinach, lettuce, kale, beets, sugar snap peas, and carrots and have not noticed a significant difference as to their growth patterns given that they thrive in cooler weather. The only exception I will mention is the Vitamin-C and extremely cold-tolerant Miner’s Lettuce. This strange-looking, but fast-growing plant will help prevent scurvy at a time when good nutrition may be hard to attain.

Survivalist-specific Crops

The following are what I call my survivalist-specific plants. These plants, if you can keep them alive in a SHTF scenario, can give you an advantage over others.

There is a specific type of sunflower that when pressed (with our manual press, just in case we are off grid) produces sunflower oil for cooking and barter. The Oilseed Sunflower can be planted after your last frost date, which in our area is late spring. These plants grow well and require almost no attention except for proper weed control and some sort of support when the plant heads get too big. When mature, collect the seeds, dry, and then process them through an oil extractor. Cooking oil is a high-demand item in places that are experiencing shortages from deteriorating economic conditions, like Venezuela and Argentina.

The Moringa tree will not survive the winters in most of the American Redoubt. That is why I have my plants in pots that I place outside in the late summer/spring and move inside in the fall. This is one of those plants that you have to really want, because it does require some attention. Why do I keep these high-maintenance trees? Moringa trees offer some great advantages. The seeds of the tree can be used as part of your off-grid water filtration process. The leaves can be eaten and have extremely high levels of protein, vitamins A and C, potassium, and calcium. The pods can be cooked as well.

The Trinidad Scorpion pepper is one of the hottest in the world. Why would we need this in a SHTF scenario? I am growing it now as a deterrent to combat my garden’s unrelenting pests. Growing without pesticides does mean using nature to battle nature. I have a problem with pocket gophers and moles, and I have found a mix of dish soap and powdered cayenne pepper sprayed around their holes to be an effective way to control these greedy little guys. Unfortunately, I don’t think cayenne pepper is strong enough, so I am experimenting with the Trinidad pepper as a much more powerful deterrent against both the smaller and larger (deer) pests.

Medicinal Plants

In a truly long-term survival scenario, it is highly unlikely that we will have access to quality medical care. While it may be possible to forage for medicinal plants, why not grow them? After extensive research on medicinal plants in my area, I was somewhat surprised once I realized that I could grow many of the natural medicine we would need.

Many of these plants are native, or can adapted to many of the plant hardiness zones throughout the Redoubt. Of course you will have to learn how to make the teas, poultices, compresses, tinctures, salves, et cetera, but there are many excellent books that can provide the basics one would need. Some of the more common plants that have medicinal properties are garlic, dandelion, lavender, and chamomile.

The climate in many parts of the American Redoubt can also support the growth of other medicinal plants including comfrey, mullein, nettle, plantain, valerian, peppermint, chickweed, yarrow, and elderberry.

When There Are No Fertilizers Or Pesticides

There is a good chance, in a SHTF scenario, that fertilizers and pesticides will be unavailable. That means we will be growing our food au naturel. This is why adopting natural and organic farming practices is essential.

I learned early in my mini-farming experience why the key tenant of organic agriculture is maintaining the health of the soil. I like to think of the soil as one huge energy outlet. The plants plug their roots into the soil and suck out the nutrients to produce crops. But in order to keep getting healthy, highly productive food, the soil needs to be replenished. Otherwise, each year your plants will be less and less productive.

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is simply rotating crops to different areas in your garden or farm. This is done for many reasons, but it primarily helps dissuade plant diseases and pests from growing accustomed to one area.

Cover Crops

You can help to get all of those healthy nutrients back into the soil by planting cover crops. These specific crops are planted after you remove your plants from the garden at the end of the season. Cover crops replace those nutrients back into the soil while also helping to prevent the erosion that would occur when your fields would otherwise remain empty over the winter. In most parts of the American Redoubt, these crops will die off in the winter, leaving you with a lush layer of dead plant matter in the spring.

Importance of Compost

Compost is another important element required to maintain soil health. This decomposed matter boosts the nutrients and beneficial microbes in your soil, even further enhancing your output.

Putting It All Together

There is no better time to learn how to grow at least some food. If you plan on growing your own food in a SHTF scenario, please get enough non-hybrid, non-GMO seeds now. There is a very good chance that they will be unavailable in a crisis. Pay attention to the expiration dates on the packets, but realize that if stored in a cool, dry location those seeds will last much longer than their expiration suggests. Just remember that the longer from expiration date, the less seeds will germinate, so you will need more seeds to grow fewer plants.

You may want to start slowly, because taking on too much too soon can quickly become overwhelming. The feeling of making an entire meal from your own garden is both empowering and humbling, knowing that we are all capable but few choose to grow their own food. As a survivalist, you will sleep better knowing that you have this essential skill that could save your family in times of future turmoil.