Mid-Scale Grain Gardening in Alaska- Part 4, By Alaskan Gardeners

My wife and I have developed a mid-scale grain garden and have shared much of the crop operations earlier in this article series. We are in the middle of disclosing modifications to the Rodale Thresher as part of our Threshing and Winnowing operation. Let’s continue.

Threshing and Winnowing (continued)

Exit Modifications To Avoid Lost Grain

I used ½” galvanized hardware cloth for the exit screen as shown in Figure 10. Most of the grain lost from the thresher is via sweeping out seed along with threshing debris. Counter this by installing finished 1” X 1” boards across the screen to provide stops, and also by sweeping the coarse debris side-to-side before sweeping it out.

The original thresher design dropped the grain through the screen onto the floor. I installed a drawer under the screen as shown in Figure 10. A 5-gallon bucket full of reaped grain results in a drawer ⅔ full of threshed debris. The drawer is then emptied into a 5-gallon bucket (Figure 11), and my wife winnows this (Figure 12) while I thresh another bucket load of seed heads.

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Letter: Battery Comparison and Cost


Has there ever been a cost basis study comparing rechargeable batteries versus changeable taking into account original cost of batteries and charger, cost of purchased electricity at today’s average rate, or if solar charged the cost of that equipment. As my rechargeable batteries lose life and I see changeable batteries going for cheap, I am beginning to wonder if loading up on the cheap expendables isn’t cheaper in the long run. – R.T.

HJL’s Comment:

I’m sure there have been cost studies, but I am not aware of any. However, you can do a basic comparison on costs yourself. Just be aware that cost is not the only factor that has to be considered when making the decision.

Typical purchase costs:

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Economics & Investing For Preppers

Here are the latest items and commentary on current economics news, market trends, stocks, investing opportunities, and the precious metals markets. We also cover hedges, derivatives, and obscura. And it bears mention that most of these items are from the “tangibles heavy” contrarian perspective of JWR. (SurvivalBlog’s Founder and Senior Editor.) Today’s focus is on derivatives counterparty risk.

Precious Metals:

We’ll start with this from Andrew Hecht at Seeking Alpha: Precious Metals in the Final Month of 2017

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David Morgan: What drives the Silver Price — Supply or Demand?

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Reader R.B. wrote to mention this sign of the times:  “APMEX just sent out an email indicating that they are now accepting payment for precious metals in Bitcoin.”

Stock Markets:

Kirk Spano: Let The Stock Market Bubble Blow

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The Editors’ Quote of the Day:

“The privacy and dignity of our citizens [are] being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually, each step may be of little consequence. But when viewed as a whole, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen – a society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of a life.” – William O. Douglas

Mid-Scale Grain Gardening in Alaska- Part 3, By Alaskan Gardeners

My wife and I are convinced we need to pursue self sufficiency, and a large part of that is food self sufficiency, including providing our own protein, vegetables, and grain. I’m writing about our family’s grain gardening and am in the midst of detailing our crop operations. We’ve gone over soil preparation, planting, and reaping. Let’s now continue with drying.

Reaping and Drying (continued)

Mild fall weather during harvest time as shown in Figure 3 is unusual in the Copper River Valley, Alaska. It’s usually cold and sometimes wet; we had three inches of snow on the ground during our first harvesting year. So it is frequently necessary to dry the harvested grain before threshing. Also, peas harvested for shelling must be dried before threshing.

Constructing Drying Trash

I constructed 43 drying trays to accomplish this purpose. Construction details are shown in Figures 4 and 5. The wood is finished 1” X 2” lumber. The floors are made of galvanized ½” mesh hardware cloth. One exception is that the floor of three trays are ¼” galvanized hardware cloth; these trays serve the dual purpose of also screening grain as shown in Figure 13. All pieces are attached with screws, for strength.

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Letter: Neutron Shielding for Fallout Shelters

Hugh and Jim,
I was recently reading a book on nuclear reactors. I learned that iron can be used in concrete to provide neutron shielding. The iron slows the fast neutrons down to thermal levels that can be easily absorbed in the concrete. I also mine my own gold. As a byproduct of my mining, I have buckets of magnetite and hematite iron ore sand. The magnetite ore I sell to a local blacksmith for making steel. The hematite I’ve found no use for until now. I can use this black sand in place of silica sand in the concrete to provide neutron shielding for the temporary bomb shelter I’m building at my primary residence. Magnetite is Fe3O4 and is magnetic, and hematite is Fe2O3 and non-magnetic. Both comprise the black sand in the gold pan. So talk to your local gold miners about obtaining their black sands. – D.W.

JWR Replies: That is a useful idea, but perhaps it is more labor intensive than necessary. The main thing to remember about stopping the most energetic forms of radiation (neutron, x-ray, and gamma) is that the lack of quality of any particular type of shielding can be made up for with quantity. If in doubt, add thickness. With neutron radiation, it is water that is the best shielding. So damp soil works just fine. So does concrete, because it holds moisture for many years. Iron or steel actually stops gamma rays better than they do neutrons. My advice: Construct a deep shelter (my favorite is a dual purpose shelter and root cellar) with at least four feet of soil on all sides and overhead.  Six feet would be great. If you live in a region with sandy soil, then the soil should be kept dampened during times of high international tensions, for the best shielding.

The Survivalist’s Odds ‘n Sods:

SurvivalBlog presents another edition of The Survivalist’s Odds ‘n Sods— a collection of news bits and pieces that are relevant to the modern survivalist and prepper from “HJL”. California fires are continuing to flare up. The latest is the Skirball Fire, that caused a grid-down event in West LA.


Brad Schaeffer, over at The Daily Wire, has started a series on a front of World War II that shaped Russia and created a paranoid, meddlesome nation that President Ronald Reagan called evil. Most Americans seem to think World War II started on December 7, 1941 and reached its pinnacle on June 6th, 1944. (Europeans tend to remember rather more.) To put the Battle of Stalingrad in perspective, even at the height of the the West’s war on Germany (including North Africa) we faced 175 Wehrmacht Divisions. The Red Army faced over 600 Wehrmacht Divisions. During the Battle of the Bulge, the Allies lost 100,000 soldiers. But that was almost a daily loss for the Russians. It’s promising to be a good series.

Facism – Right or Left?

I’ve been irritated at the media for some time for buying into the concept that fascists are from the “right”. PragerU has a video out now that discusses the little known history of the fascist movement – Something the Left would rather keep forgotten. Even Obama has called President Trump a fascist and has likened him to the early stages of the Nazis in the 1930s despite the fact that Obama’s own presidency had more of a resemblance than any other, in recent history. Nope. Sorry. Fascism is clearly a leftist movement. The next time you hear “far right”, remember the whole point of that is to liken a conservative or a libertarian to the abomination of fascism. It is a lie. Remind them who originated the movement: socialists.

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The Editors’ Quote of the Day:

“Today I am delivering. I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process. And to work towards a lasting agreement.

‘Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capitol. Acknowledging this is a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace. It was 70 years ago that the United States under President Truman recognized the state of Israel.

‘Ever since then, Israel has made its capitol in the city of Jerusalem, the capitol the Jewish people established in ancient times. Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the prime minister and the president. It is the headquarters of many government ministries.

‘For decades, visiting American presidents, secretaries of State and military leaders have met their Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem, as I did on my trip to Israel earlier this year.

‘Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world. Over the past seven decades, the Israeli people have by the a country where Jews, Muslims and Christians and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs.

‘Jerusalem is today and must remain a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the stations of the cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque. However, through all of these years, presidents representing the United States have declined to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol. In fact, we have declined to acknowledge any Israeli capitol at all.

‘But today we finally acknowledge the obvious. That Jerusalem is Israel’s capitol. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.

‘That is why consistent with the Jerusalem Embassy Act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers and planners so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.”  – President Donald J. Trump, Dec. 6, 2017

Preparedness Notes for Wednesday – December 06, 2017

On December 6th, 1865, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, ending the institution of slavery. “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” With these words, the single greatest change wrought by the Civil War was officially noted in the Constitution.

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Mid-Scale Grain Gardening in Alaska- Part 2, By Alaskan Gardeners

We are continuing on with this article about my wife’s and my journey in mid-scale grain gardening. Yesterday, I explained our reasons for believing it was time to build self-sufficiency, and now let’s move on to the food production part, specifically our grain gardening efforts.

Definition of Mid-Scale Grain Gardening

Grain plots may vary in size, ranging from, at the minimum, a small plot using a rototiller or shovel and rake for soil preparation, hand sowing the grain, reaping with a scythe or sickle, threshing with a flail, and winnowing with a kitchen fan or a windy day. The small-scale plot is very labor and time-intensive per unit of grain harvested, and the total quantity of grain harvested may not meet the needs of a large family. By contrast a commercial operation may utilize hundreds of acres and a heavy investment in machinery (or utilize the services of a commercial harvesting crew). What I wanted was something in-between the minimum and the commercial operation.

Plot Size

I was seeking a grain plot size and the necessary equipment sufficient to, with a large safety margin, produce enough grain for one or more families every year. My grain garden has been about 15,000 plus square feet (roughly ⅓ acre). Normally, this area will produce enough grain each year to provide us with several years of consumption. This mid-scale grain gardening requires more mechanical equipment than the minimum, but it provides the advantages of much larger grain production and a large reduction in physical labor and time per unit of grain harvested, as compared to the minimum.

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Economics & Investing For Preppers

Here are the latest items and commentary on current economics news, market trends, stocks, investing opportunities, and the precious metals markets. We also cover hedges, derivatives, and obscura. And it bears mention that most of these items are from the “tangibles heavy” contrarian perspective of JWR. (SurvivalBlog’s Founder and Senior Editor.) Today’s focus is on the Republican Tax Reform Plan.

Precious Metals:

First off, there is this piece by Simon Constable, at U.S. News: If Precious Metals Rally, Then Pick Silver

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Stock Market:

Here is an opinion piece by Avi Gilburt (who is an Elliott Waver): Euphoria is extending the U.S. stock market’s gains
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JWR’s Recommendations of the Week

My Thailand Calling - Cover

Here are JWR’s Recommendations of the Week for various media and tools of interest to SurvivalBlog readers. This week the focus is on the Old Sneelock series of instructional videos on YouTube.


I may be biased (since I published it), but I highly recommend this inspirational and truly uplifting book: My Thailand Calling: Following Jesus Cross-Culturally: A Missionary’s Journey On The Frontiers.

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The Survival Medicine Handbook: The essential guide for when medical help is NOT on the way


I’ve mentioned this film before, but it bears repeating: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

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Despite some quite unrealistic injections of 21st Century morality, this movie about WWII resistance operatives is worth watching: Allied.  (Warning: Definitely not one for the kids!)

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The Editors’ Quote of the Day:

“America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She well knows that by enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standards of freedom.” – John Quincy Adams