Three Letters Re: Diesel Engine Vehicles and EMP

1.) Jim:
GM diesel models 1994 or later have an electronic injection pump, and are vulnerable to EMP. Some models made before 1994 will have an electronic glow plug controller which can be easily bypassed. From what I can gather GM also went to “electronic” transmissions around 1994. Before then most diesels had th350 or th400 transmissions. Some pre-1994 GM trucks also had th700r4 transmissions that had minimal electronics, and can be rebuilt with the electronics bypassed. Of course anything with a manual transmission should be safe. I believe most light diesels follow the same timeline because of EPA smog regulations that were implemented at the time. – C.G


2.) I just had to replace the glow plug relay in my 1982 Mercedes 300SD, and took the old one apart and found some transistors in the turn-on timing circuit. These may get fried, but I can always put a pushbutton on the dash to simplify the circuit. – A Marine Corps Reader

3.) Hi,
I can only speak for Fords, of which I own a 1988 F250 Diesel. The early 80’s to 1994 ford In-Direct Injection (IDI) 6.9L and 7.3L diesels,
actually an International motor, have no computers. Everything, and I mean everything, is mechanical in these motors (even the fuel pump). In
1989, Ford went to a 4 speed automatic transmission that is computer operated, and that is the only computer in the truck. Of course, there
are electronic components in the truck: Glow Plugs, Alternator, Gauges, etc, but the truck would keep on running and driving even if it took an
EMP hit. If the glow plug controller goes out, it might be a little hard to start on cold days. Losing the electronic starter would cause
problems too. After 1994, the Ford diesels are called PowerStroke, and they have computers controlling the motor.
My ’88 F250 4×4 Diesel is my G.O.O.D. vehicle for good reason! – “Analog”



Letter from “Doug Carlton” Re: Beretta 9mm Model 92/Centurion Owners — .40 S&W Kits Now on the Market

Jim:
Here’s some of my views on some of the questions you’ve had in your letters about the Beretta M92/96 series. My experience with the gun, after use in the Army and use and ownership in the civilian world is they work as well as any gun out there. People get entirely too territorial about handguns, similar to the way people used to put some mystical significance to their sword they would be carrying in feudal times. The fact is that you really aren’t any less or better armed with nearly any of the current crop of service pistols from any of the makers. FOR THE ARMY the M9 is fine, but notice I said FOR THE ARMY. Too many people put too much significance on what the Big Army uses instead of looking at what they themselves need. Just because the Army uses the M9 or M11 (SIG P228), or some police department uses Glocks, or some instructor uses a M1911A1 doesn’t make it THE BEST FOR YOU in your individual situation. What matters is buying a quality gun that fits your needs. Too many people go nuts over the latest gadget, kit, or weapon they see on an internet picture of troops in combat and instantly want that item because that must be what’s needed. But even in Iraq the situation is different than what we’d experience here in the USA, even if the same type of war was going on. People need to take a long hard look at what they need, and gear up for those needs, not someone else’s. That covers everything from guns, calibers, ammo, to uniforms and radios and even food. Survival is all about your personal needs.

On the 92/96 conversions–The 92/96 conversions were originally sold by Beretta as a set on a common frame. The factory would actually fit both top halves to the one frame, and insure that they worked. The CDNN offering is worth buying IMO, but there is a very small chance it might not be reliable on a standard 9mm frame. There’s no drama in getting it to work right either, but no one should buy one and store it “just in case they need a .40” and not first test it out extensively to wring out any problems before it is needed. The low cost, and the flexibility it adds is worth the price, and 99% of the time these will work fine out of the box. Just make sure that the people with the 1% get them running before they need them.

On ball versus JHP ammo–ANY handgun is marginal at best for stopping power compared to a rifle. The only virtue of a sidearm is it’s portability. So when it’s possible, JHPs should be used regardless of caliber. The “one box method” is a good one for weeding out early ammo purchases, but in general no gun should be relied upon unless the user has shot at least 500 rounds out of it without failure of any kind. 500 rounds is not much of anything in real terms, just ten boxes of ammo. Most of today’s quality pistols will easily shoot several thousands without any problem, and most will digest tens of thousands easily. While I understand that you meant that one box just to weed out incompatible ammo, someone might think one box is all you need to shoot to test for serious use. Once you find one box that does run through the gun, they need to run another 9 boxes at least through it to make sure it works before really having confidence in that gun/ammo combination. FMJ is attractive from a price standpoint, and that IS and important consideration. We’ve all been in a position where we had more needs than money, and just can’t run down to the store and buy 2500 rounds of JHPs or a new P220 for them to go in. So again you have to use your own judgment. If your only handgun will only feed FMJ and you can’t afford one that will, or mods to yours to make it feed different bull;et shapes, then buying FMJ as an interim plan isn’t a bad way to go. It’s far less effective than JHP, but a jammed gun is far less effective than one that’s spitting out ball every time. Ammo is never a waste, since you can use it for barter later, or practice now. It will buy you time to find out what JHP works and time to buy it. It’s NOT the optimum solution by any stretch. Any time you take the “cheap way” over the “best way”, then you’re losing something and cutting corners, but the reality of life in the real world is you sometimes have to do that. Just view it like driving your car on an emergency “doughnut” spare. You can still move, but it’s not the best solution to needing the right tire.

Speaking of tires, on bullets bouncing off of tires–This is a well known phenomena. So well known that many PD’s won’t shoot at truck tires. The U.S. Army first used stacks of tires in the early MOUT training days (i.e. “tire houses”) and found out that bullets and grenade fragments bouncing off of them were a serious danger. Serious enough that the Army does not use them any longer , and neither does anyone else that has any sense for that matter. They were used for only a couple years, and quickly dropped because too many people actually got shot by rounds that were bouncing around. Shooting at tires of any kind is a dangerous thing to do!

On U.S.G.I. Beretta magazines not working–The problem with them is the government went cheap and bought essentially aftermarket mags. Gee, any lesson there? All the bad mags are marked Checkmate Industries, or CMI. Since they’ve been recalled, they may start popping up on the surplus market. Again, just because it’s “U.S.G.I.” doesn’t mean it’s the best way to go. Sometimes it is surplus for a reason. OBTW, the later Checkmate mags actually have different tolerances and supposedly work. Also BTW, “MDS” marked mags are actually a Beretta factory product. Beretta owns MDS and that’s the factory that they use to make all their mags. Buy what you want, but this is a good case of where “U.S.G.I.” might not always be the best route to take. – Doug Carlton

[JWR’s note: Some of the readers of my novel Patriots will remember the Doug Carlton character. It is the pseudonym of a real life individual that I have known since college. He is a former U.S. Army aviator.]



WND Reports: Al Qaeda Nuke Strike in U.S. “Pretty Close to Being Inevitable”

Our friends at World Net Daily just posted excerpts from an interview with Michael Scheuer, the man who headed the CIA’s Osama bin Laden desk. Scheuer discussed Bin Laden’s relentless quest to obtain nukes and the prospects of a nuclear terrorist strike on the U.S. by Al Qaeda. He said: “I don’t believe in inevitability. But I think it’s pretty close to being inevitable. …Yes, I think it’s probably a near thing.” Read the entire article. This is some serious FFTAGFFR, folks!



From David in Israel: On Zippered Boots

It seems obvious to anyone who has worked in a fire department or EMS but even now that I am not directly in this field I still keep my clothing ready to go instantly. We are almost useless without at least shoes. I keep my zip off boots (tongue zipper kits are sold by Red Wing shoes), pants and shirt from the previous day next to the bed. That means I don’t have to think about having a cell phone, flashlight, or pistol when it is needed. In just 10 seconds I am ready to go.



Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”
– Frederic Bastiat, The Law



Jim’s Product Review: 4,000+ Nights In a Wiggy’s Sleeping Bag

I don’t write many product reviews, but I am uniquely qualified to write this one: In November of 1994 I rolled my 1968 Bronco on black ice on a winding stretch of Highway 12 paralleling the Clearwater River in Idaho. In that accident I suffered a severe back injury–so severe that the chiropractor that took the x-rays commented that he was surprised that I hadn’t severed my spinal cord. Because of the injury, despite the best efforts of the doctors and chiropractors I’ve been unable to sleep in a bed for the past 11 years. (Any bed is too soft and causes muscle spasms.) Since December of 1994, I’ve spent virtually every night sleeping on the floor in a Wiggy’s Hunter Flexible Temperature Range Sleep System (FTRSS) sleeping bag. It is a two bag sleep system with two different weight bags that can be used together or separately. I spend roughly 8 months out of each year in the light weight bag, and 4 months in the heavy weight bag.) I’ve slept for more than 4,000 nights in that FTRSS–that is the equivalent of two lifetimes of heavy recreational use for a sleeping bag. (Here is the math: An intensive recreational user probably camps out about 35 nights per year, multiplied by 50 years of camping equals 1,750 nights. Hence, two lifetimes for a bag would be roughly 3,500 nights.) Since 1994, I have spent approximately 4,000 nights–including about 250 nights in the field–in my FTRSS. Again, that is something in excess of two lifetimes worth of use.

The FTRSS has been very comfortable and exceptionally durable. The bag has had ZERO zipper failures, and NO rips or tears. Most importantly, is has never lost its loft or had its filling get clumped or re-arranged, despite countless machine washings. (I should have kept track of the number of times that I’ve washed it!) I highly recommend Wiggy’s brand sleeping bags. The FTRSS models in particular are ideally suited for anyone that expects to give a sleeping bag demanding use. OBTW, I should mention that I have not been compensated in any way for making this endorsement. I’m just a very satisfied customer. If you want the best, buy yourself a Wiggy’s bag!



Book Review: Physician Desk Reference (PDR) for Herbal Medicine

(Third Edition, 987 pages.) This is a huge book. The price is huge too, at $59.95. This book has information on over 700 botanicals as well as a new section on nutritional supplements. Each botanical entry gives common names and scientific names. A plant description is given. (Though not good enough to help you recognize the plant in the wild.) It tells the chemical compounds found in the herb and the effects of the compounds. A very strong plus! There is usage (both proven and unproven) for each entry. Mode of administration and sometimes dosage amounts are given. The reason I really like this book is for the section on precautions and adverse reactions. Remember the Hippocratic oath—Do thy patient no harm! (There are many books on herbs out there which say nothing about overdoses and adverse reactions.) There is a section of color photos of 300 or so of the botanicals. Which leads me to what I think is the real lack of this book, which is plant identification. There are photographs for less than half of the plants. And the photos are each hardly larger than an inch square. Not to mention the pictures are generally bad. So you are going to need to find at least one other herb book–specifically for plant identification. I have mixed feelings about this book. It probably has way more information in it than most people need. And it is more expensive than most can afford. Further, if the balloon goes up we aren’t going to have access to all 700 botanicals detailed in this book. But on the other hand if it is TEOTWAWKI, I’m going to want some really good books on herbs. And this will be one of them. – The Memsahib



From David in Israel: Charity and Tithing (Tzedaka) Law in Israel

Since it is a major focus of your blog, I thought you would like to see a few of the Jewish laws regarding Tzedaka. All things in this world are created by Hashem, the only thing we can claim is our ability to choose good or evil. To remind us that he is the owner (among other reasons) he requires we contribute 10% of all our produce from the field (plus another 10% to the Levim and another 2-3% to the Cohenim (aka, the Priests and their assistants) We extend the 10% of Tzedaka to all income almost like a tax. Even if a person is so desperately poor they cant give 10% they must give some level of tzedaka. If a person is middle income they may give up to 1/5 of their income although this next 10% above the minimum is much more free as to to what it may fund. Finally a wealthy person may give any amount they want above the 20% to whatever cause they choose.
Restrictions on giving: You may not impoverish your family through tzedaka, it is a sin to over give and put your family behind others. There is a bulls eye of giving, starting in the middle with yourself, you must ensure your survival first, next your wife, then your children.
Next comes your Torah instructor then your parents.
Next comes close neighbors, further out neighbors are their next door neighbors first responsibility not yours. Finally, if everyone in your community is taken care of may you give outside to other communities. I am sick when I hear of Tzedaka given to "save the animals" causes. This is effectively giving to a sweet and emotional cause but it must come from recreational or optional monies not from money designated for the mitzvah [blessing] of Tzedaka.

You may not use Tzedaka for your own or family education unless you are desperately poor, if possible this loan if taken must be documented and repaid. Holy books may be purchased but must be marked as purchased with Tzedaka so they are not included in any inheritance and must be freely loaned. Measure for measure Hashem promises a return on this investment even stating we are to test him in this matter. When we act as agents of the creator in bringing the flow of his blessing into the world we increase the flow directed through us.



Letter from Nurse Livengood Re: Asian Avian Flu (H5N1)

Thanks for the great blog. I have been looking for this information for a long time. Thanks.

In regards to the flu: here is some information from two good sources. The first is from the August 13th issue of the Lancet (major medical journal from the UK):
The Lancet 2005; 366:533-534
DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)67080-8
H5N1 Influenza Pandemic: Contingency Plans
Kenneth WT Tsang email address a, Philip Eng b, CK Liam c, Young-soo Shim d and Wah K Lam d

The current epidemic of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza, with a mortality of 58%, appears relentless in Asia, particularly in Vietnam and Thailand.1 Although inefficient, there is some evidence of human-to-human transmission for the H5N1 virus.2 A possible catastrophic pandemic could, therefore, emerge should re-assortment of viral antigens occur resulting in a highly infectious strain of H5N1. Influenza pandemics in 1917–18, 1957–58, and 1968–69 have already caused approximately 15, 4, and 0·75 million deaths worldwide, respectively.

A vaccine for H5N1 will not be available in the foreseeable months. Even if pharmaceutical manufacturing begins soon after an outbreak, there would not be a sufficient supply for the countries most in need—ie, the Asian nations. Antiviral drugs are consequently the only specific treatment, pending availability of effective vaccines. These include M2 inhibitors (amantadine and rimantadine), which are ineffective against H5N1 in vitro, and the neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivir and zanamivir).3 The neuraminidase inhibitors reduce the severity and duration of symptoms, and prevent
clinical influenza as post-exposure and seasonal prophylaxis.4 Influenza contingency plans by the WHO and most governments generally advocate detection, isolation, staff protection, and the start of antiviral treatment for patients, and their contacts.5 Many governments, including those of Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Korea, have already stockpiled, at a very substantial expense, vast quantities of oseltamivir to prepare for an outbreak.5

This next one comes from an ACIP ( Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) publication: Influenza Vaccine Composition
Both the inactivated and live, attenuated vaccines prepared for the 2005–06 season will include A/California/7/2004 (H3N2)-like, A/New Caledonia/20/99 (H1N1)-like, and B/Shanghai/361/2002-like antigens. For the A/California/7/2004 (H3N2)-like antigen, manufacturers may use the antigenically equivalent A/New York/55/2004 (H3N2) virus, and for the B/Shanghai/361/2002-like antigen, manufacturers may use the antigenically equivalent B/Jilin/20/2003 virus or B/Jiangsu/10/2003 virus. These viruses will be used because of their growth properties and because they are representative of influenza viruses likely to circulate in the United States during the 2005–06 influenza season. Because circulating influenza A (H1N2) viruses are a reassortant of influenza A (H1N1) and (H3N2) viruses, antibody directed against influenza A (H1N1) and influenza (H3N2) vaccine strains provides protection against circulating influenza A (H1N2) viruses. Influenza viruses for both the inactivated and live attenuated influenza vaccines are initially grown in embryonated hens eggs. Thus, both vaccines might contain limited amounts of residual egg protein. For the inactivated vaccine, the vaccine viruses are made noninfectious (i.e., inactivated or killed) (63). Subvirion and purified surface antigen preparations of the inactivated vaccine are available. Manufacturing processes differ by manufacturer. Manufacturers might use different compounds to inactivate influenza viruses and add antibiotics to prevent bacterial contamination. Package inserts should be consulted for additional information.

Hope these are helpful (or at least interesting)! – Nurse Alma Frances Livengood



Letter Re: Subarus and Heirloom Seeds

Hello,
I’d like to compliment you on having one of the most informative new blogs I’ve seen. I’ve enjoyed reading it, so far.
I have a couple of things to contribute, one on the subject of gardening, and one on the subject of good cars to have around.

On the car, first, as it’s short: Subaru stations wagons, 4WD drive ones, if older–all new ones are all wheel drive, are fantastic vehicles for rough driving conditions. Their only drawback is that they are not diesel. My Outback has actually done the stuff you always see in Subaru’s commercials–and then gotten on the freeway and done 80 mph–all in a day’s work, no problem. I have even seen it handle rough roads and mud better than a 1-ton dually 4WD diesel truck–no exaggeration! I’ve had more than one Subaru. If you need a car, rather than a truck, for some reason, they take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’. The one I had before my current one was an early ’80’s model 4WD that had 250,000 miles on it, when I sold it to my neighbor, who then used it to place in the local demo derby 3 times that I know of, winning once. Parts are reasonably cheap & fixing is reasonably easy. Japanese brand, but made in Indiana. (Our other vehicle is a big diesel Dodge, so we have our bases covered.)

On to the gardening. When you are buying seeds for gardening, you want to be sure to buy open-pollinated seeds. These are non-hybrid and often heirloom varieties. You can’t save seeds from the fruit of plants grown from hybrid seed, because you those seeds will not breed true. Open-pollinated seeds will breed true from saved seed, and are, therefore, a far better choice for a preparedness-oriented gardener. There are techniques to be learned for saving seeds, and plenty of how-to info around. Squash, for example, requires hand-pollination if you want your seed to breed true, as all squash breeds cross-pollinate with each other. I have some interesting crosses that “volunteered” in my garden this year! Most sorts of seed will keep a few years, if kept in a cool dry place. My favorite source for open-pollinated seeds is Fedco Seeds, in Maine. They are a co-op, so only do ordering once a year, but their prices and available variety are top-notch!

A little-known vegetable that makes an excellent substitute for potatoes and, if you can’t find it growing wild, is extremely easy to grow, is known as a Sunchoke, or Jerusalem Artichoke. This is actually a species of sunflower with edible roots. You plant them like potatoes, and, after frost, dig the tubers up only as you use them–they don’t keep well out of the ground. I’m thinking they might keep well in a box of dirt in a root cellar, but I haven’t tried this yet. They’re very undemanding as far as watering or garden care is concerned, and extremely tasty fried up with onions! – Mrs. H.J.



Letter Re: AKs for Feral Dogs

Hi Jim, thought I’d make a suggestion concerning one of the problems that we are likely to face once society turns south: Feral dogs roving in packs. A friend of mine in Southern California who relocated to the rural section of Riverside County remarked to me after soon moving there that they really didn’t have any problems with coyotes or mountain lions (which are prevalent) but in fact domestic dogs turned feral were a big concern with the land owners (most folks in his area have between 2.5 and 20 acres). Seems that dogs that were abandoned for one reason or another were forming into packs and threatening the safety of children waiting at rural bus stops as well as coming right on peoples’ property and threatening people there as well. Some people had even resorted to shooting these dogs on site, they apparently are more vicious than the coyotes. Imagine what a problem this would be once folks can no longer feed Spot and Fido. Which brings me to the AK-47 variant rifle that many of us own. I for one have a Romanian semi auto variant along with several thousand rounds of inexpensive 7.62×39 ammo. As we all would agree the battle rifle of choice should more than likely be a .308–which relegates the AK to backup status. These are excellent little rifles, reliable, easy to disassemble, cheap to feed and magazines are plentiful and cheap. Seems to me this would be a great rifle to use to dispatch the feral dogs you are likely to encounter on your property–why waste your .308 on them when you have these high capacity, reliable and cheap to operate rifles in your battery. I’ve often thought of getting rid of the AK but when I started pondering this likely scenario I chose to keep it–just in case.
Anyway, food for thought. Best Regards,- J.M. in Northern Idaho



Letter Re: The New Federal Military Rifle Barrel Import Ban

Jim,
The U.S. BATFE has ruled that ex-military barrels are not to be imported. No new requests are being approved for import, and all previously approved requests must enter the country before the end of 2005. But on the other hand , ex-U.S. Military arms are going to be allowed back in, so the FAL/L1A1 are going to become more expensive with U.S. made barrels and the M1 Garands are going to come down in price from what ODCMP [currently] sells them for.
Current CMP prices are as follows:
1. Ex-Greek used “Service Grade” (ok to return to service from depot grade) M1 Garand from $500-550 + S/H and qualification (DD214 or match participation)
2. Ex-Greek/non-Greek used “Field Grade” (okay to remain in field usage grade) M1 Garand at $375

BATFE Web Page References:

On the Import Ban: http://www.atf.treas.gov/firearms/071305openletter.htm
Extension on Current Import Licenses Until the End of 2005: http://www.atf.treas.gov/firearms/081205openletter.pdf
U.S. Military Arsenal Manufactured Rifles Now Importable: http://www.atf.treas.gov/firearms/071205openletter.pdf

– R.D.



Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“I’d like France to have two Armies — one for display, with lovely guns, tanks, little Soldiers, fanfares, staffs, distinguished and doddering Generals and dear little regimental officers, who would be deeply concerned over their General’s bowel movements or their Colonel’s piles: an Army that would be shown for a modest fee on every fairground in the country.

The other would be the real one, composed entirely of young enthusiasts in camouflage battledress, who would not be put on display but from whom impossible efforts
would be demanded and to whom all sorts of tricks would be taught. That’s the Army in which I should like to fight.” – Jean Larteguy, The Centurions



From The Memsahib: In Favor of Dairy Goats

Getting any dairy animal is a very big commitment. But I believe they are a valuable part of your livestock preparedness. Even more importantly, I believe that goats are the best dairy animals for the survivalist.

My reasons to recommend goats over cows for a survival situation are as follows:

1. A dairy goat costs only about one fifth as much as a dairy cow.

2. Five goats can be fed one the same amount that it takes to feed one cow.

3. If your dairy cow dies, then you are out of luck. But the odds of losing all of your goats is small.

4.Goat browse rather than graze and can make use of a wider variety of forage.

5. Goats are easier to handle

6. Because of their smaller size, goats are less likely to cause serious injuries to humans or other livestock.

The downside is that it will take more time to milk five goats than one cow. You’ll have to get five animals in and out of the stanchion, Wash five udders, milk five does (female goats), strip five udders, etc. But I really believe that the benefits of having the insurance of multiple dairy animals far outweighs the extra effort.

The main drawback is that the cream does not separate in goats milk, so that you will not be able to skim the cream off. And therefore you will not be able to make butter. On the other hand, goat milk is much easier to digest, and many people who cannot drink cows milk can drink goats milk. And of course you can use goats milk to make yogurt, cream cheese, hard cheese, and ice cream, as well as use it in recipes just like you would cows milk.

As I mentioned earlier, dairy animals are a big commitment. This is because they are traditionally milked twice a day, at the same time every day. Perhaps your current schedule doesn’t allow for this. There are ways to get around this, yet still be prepared. You could for instance milk in the morning but let the kids nurse during the day. You could also have a small herd that you do not milk at all, but instead just let them raise offspring until your family NEEDS the milk. Or maybe have a small herd but don’t even breed them until TEOTWAWKI. (They will not produce milk if they do not give birth.).



Wheat–From Broadcasting Seed to Baking Bread, by John and Abigail Adams

I thought that the SurvivalBlog readers might like to hear about our experience in raising wheat for our own use. My wife and I have lived on a small farm for many years. We raise most of our own vegetables, have chickens for eggs, run a couple of steers in the pasture and at times feed out a hog. We both have full time jobs so there is not enough time to raise everything that we need but we do what we can. As most of our kids have moved out or are off at college we no longer need to put back as much canned and frozen vegetables as we had in the past. Last fall I cleaned up the plant remnants in our garden and then simply broadcast seed wheat on top of the ground. I purchased a 50lb. bag from the local feed store, it took about 1/2 of the bag to sow the garden, the rest was stored in a sealed 5 gallon bucket, to be used on the garden this fall. By spring, even though we had an exceptionally cold winter, the wheat was several inches tall. When planting time came we plowed the wheat under as “green manure” in the upper half of our garden the lower half was left in wheat. I plan to rotate halves and see if I can gain some weed control from a year in wheat. At this point raising the wheat was simplicity itself, we did nothing other than watch it grow as we put out the rest of the garden. No hoeing, fertilizer, weeding or bug dust like with the conventional garden.
As the wheat ripened I kept an eye on my neighbors commercial wheat fields. When they started harvest I checked my wheat, it was dry enough that you had to bite fairly hard to get it to crack, not real scientific but in the event that you can’t get to your local grain elevator to have it tested, a handy gauge.
Abigail and I see this type of exercise as training in the event that the balloon does indeed go up. So as the next step is the harvest I sharpened up the hand scythe, grabbed the wheel barrow and filled it with the wheat and straw.
I then wheeled it over to a shaded area in our yard and we started the gleaning process. I had considered using the flail method to glean the wheat, but chose to use two washboards instead. I wanted to have some washboards around the house just in case they were ever needed for their intended purpose, and it would appear to take about as much time either way. Sitting on an old bed sheet we would take a handful of grain heads in the palm of our hand and rub them up and down on the washboard, the grain and chaff would pile up on the sheet. We would pile the empty straw behind us and when finished gleaning we would lay the straw between the rows in the conventional garden for weed control. We then scooped up the grain and chaff from the sheet and placed it in a large plastic bowl. It was then swirled around as we blew on the bowl. This removed about 90% of the chaff. One wheelbarrow load took two of us about an hour to process. After 3 wheelbarrows we had a gallon jar full of grain. We then took an electric fan and dribbled the wheat in front of it removing most of the remaining chaff. This process took us an additional hour as some of the wheat kernels were still covered with a sheath that we removed. We then ground the wheat in a electric mill that we had recently purchased from Lehman’s. That took about 5 minutes and yielded a little over a gallon of delicious whole-wheat flour.
Observations:
1.) While the gleaning process was not hard work by any means it took far longer than I ever anticipated. It was enjoyable in the fact that my wife, daughter and I had some quiet time together, in these busy times an all too rare occurrence. If the balloon would ever go up, and the neighbors won’t or can’t show up with their combines, I can easily see a return to the threshing floor that Ruth and Boaz enjoyed. The neighbors will get together and help each other thresh their wheat as a social event.
2.) Economically this made no sense whatsoever. We spent 4 hours of labor to obtain maybe 10 lbs of whole wheat, which I can buy at the local bulk food store for $4.70. That works out to 59 cents per hour per person, not very good wages these days.
3.)In terms of satisfaction, the experience was great! We raised, harvested, gleaned, milled and baked our own bread from our own wheat. Not too many people can say that.
4.) Because of the amount of time involved we more than likely will not harvest the rest of the wheat this year, but it will be there in the unlikely event that we need it.
5.) I plan to repeat the process next year switching halves of the garden.
6.) It was a great process and very educational. We now know what will be required if we ever have to depend on raising our own wheat. I would urge people to give it a try. Not much land is required and you too will be better informed.
7.) Because of this I am now getting into sourdough bread cooking, a whole new challenge, and a skill that may come in very handy some day.
If you or anyone else has any questions please let us know and we’ll do our best to answer them. (JWR adds: I will be happy to post or forward your questions to John and Abigail.)