Note from JWR:

Yesterday, we celebrated the two month anniversary of SurvivalBlog. I have been overwhelmed at the blog’s rapid success. (61,000+ unique views and 1.5 million page hits!) I owe most of the credit to you, the loyal SurvivalBlog readers. Your letters and contributed articles are the best part of the blog!

I’m still looking for entries for the SurvivalBlog writing contest. The prize is a transferable four day course certificate, good for any course at Front Sight!

Recommended Region: The Olympic Peninsula (Clallam County, Western Washington)

The Olympic Peninsula is a very rainy but quasi-remote region in western Washington. Albeit with strong reservations, it is one of the few retreat regions that I recommend in the western half of the state.

Statistics (for Forks):
Average high temperature in August: 71.8.
Average low temperature in January: 33.7.
Growing season: (Clallam Bay): 182 days.
Growing season: (Forks): 175 days.
Average snowfall in January: 4.8”.
Clallam County Median residential home price: $140,000.
Advantages: Mild climate with the moderating influence of the Pacific Ocean, Clallam County crops include hay oats, corn, apples, cherries, pears, plums, carrots, peas, and berries. Upwind from the Cascade Mountains (which are prone to rare but very violent volcanic eruptions/ash falls). Upwind from all of Washington’s anticipated nuclear targets.

Disadvantages: Extremely heavy rainfall except in some “rain shadow” towns like Sequim (spoken: “SKWIM”.) Proximity to the Seattle/Tacoma metropolitan region. One important proviso: Lots of folks in western Washington go fishing and hiking in the summer on the Olympic Peninsula, so they may immediately think of it as a place to bug out WTSHTF. So be prepared for a substantial influx of refugees in the event of any sort of rapid-onset TEOTWAWKI.

From JWR and the Memsahib–The Importance of Using Non-Hybrid Seeds

Modern agricultural science is a two-edged sword. Hybrid vegetable and row crop varieties have tremendously increased crop yields in the past 50 years. Along with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, this has allowed the Earth’s population to double in the past 45 years without mass starvation. Unfortunately because the seeds from hybrid plants do not breed true, it makes farmers captive to the seed companies an dependent on modern chains of supply for seed distribution. Any seed that is saved from crops typically produces less yield than traditional non-hybrid progenitors. In the event of a global TEOTWAWKI, I anticipate that catastrophic starvation would occur. This would of course be caused by disruption of hybrid seed production and/or disruption of supply chains. The lure of high yields has forced the vast majority of the worlds farmers into the ongoing use of hybrid seed. It is like an enormous, inviting, invisible trap that has taken in nearly all of the farmers on the planet-JWR

An additional hazard of hybrids or genetically modified seeds is that the exact same seed type is planted on a mass scale. A disease that could wipe out one plant would kill ALL the plants. All are identical, and all would have the same lack of resistance. You can think of hybrid seeds as identical twins.The beauty of non hybrid seeds is that they offer genetic variety. Non-hybrid seeds can be thought of as cousins. They will be from the same family but each have unique attributes. Among a field of non hybrid plants would be some with resistance to the disease. You would only lose part of your crop. And if you saved the seeds from the plants that had the most resistance, you would have disease resistant plants the next year.

OBTW, we will be discussing how to collect (“save”) and store seed stock in detail in some upcoming blog posts. – The Memsahib

The best alternative to the hybrid seed trap is to stock up on traditional open pollinated (non-hybrid) seed varieties, also called “heirloom” variety seeds. Our favorite source is The Ark Institute. They sell very high quality, open-pollinated seeds. They even offer the service of assembling a seed kit specially tailored to your climate zone. Here is how to contact them: The Ark Institute P.O. Box 1721, Gold Beach, Oregon 97444. Phone: 1-800-255-1912, e-mail: Web site: OBTW, Dr. Geri Guidetti of The Ark Institute kindly provided this article on Asian Avian Flu on her web site.

Other sources of information and open-pollinated seed:
Seed Savers Exchange, R.R. 3, Box 239 Decorah, Iowa 52101.

Seeds of Change, P.O. Box 15700 Santa Fe, New Mex. 87506.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, P.O. Box 158 North Garden Virginia 22959.

Territorial Seed Co., P.O. Box 157 Cottage Grove, Ore. 97424.
(Carries seeds primarily for the Pacific Northwest and similar climates.)

Letter Re: Chronic Illnesses and Disabilities in Retreat Planning

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I am a recent reader of the blog (nice job by the way). However I have read “Patriots” and I frequent several boards that you frequent. One issue I have, and a lot of survival minded people need to make sure is covered is medical requirements for chronic illnesses. The human body being fragile can develop an illness that must be treated on an ongoing basis. Anyone who is preparing for any disaster must take into account a supply of medications/supplies. I am not talking about the typical Tylenol and bandages, but prescriptions. Some prescriptions will be difficult to stock up on because of federal laws, or the medication is not in pill form and must be injected. And getting a ‘script’ filled just prior to a sudden catastrophic event may be impractical. A catastrophic event where you have time to make some preparations, such as a hurricane, is a bit easier to address. However keep in mind that insurance companies have time limits on filling medications. If you are near a refill date you will be okay. But if you have only used a small amount of a recent prescription, and want to have an additional supply for 30 or 60 days your insurance will not necessarily pay for it, so all of that will be out of pocket. A chronically ill person may find themselves laying out a lot of money on that supply; money that could be used for other supplies. Some medications used for an acute illness can be saved for later use. One medication I have done this with was a pain medication that I had when I had an unpleasant encounter with kidney stones. My doc told me that if I didn’t use all the pain medication to retain any unused portion. The doc said that the only thing that will happen over time is a diminished effect of the medication and I may have to take one and one half or two to gain the same pain relieving level. So, when I travel, always take it with me just in case I had another attack, because getting to a hospital to get treatment may would take a longer time than I would like to experience pain. So one needs to plan accordingly. If a person can take the time and try a week or longer taking say half of their medications (without placing your life or general health in undue danger) you will get a good idea of how to ration your medication to maintain a reasonable level of health and functionality over any given period of time. But one must know their medications. Some medications you can’t just stop taking, but must be diminished gradually over time. So be careful with what you do when testing. At this moment I am undergoing such a test. I am not doing this of choice, but because of economic reasons. I have found that I can remain fairly functional with my more expensive medications cut in half. And so far this ‘time of test’ has been a bit over two weeks. I hope to return to my normal dosage level soon. But if I watch what I do and pace myself I can manage pain levels and still get some of my basic work accomplished. Anyone who has a chronic condition can be a contributor any survival group, but one must know one’s limitations as well as capabilities. It would be foolish for me to try plowing a field with a mule, but I can do ‘lighter’ work. And if push comes to shove, I can lay down a lot of covering fire for a tactical retreat. Every survivalist needs to take into account the fragility of their own health, and make adjustments according to health, age, and physical abilities. And for you young survival minded people, you will get older so don’t overlook your own fragility and mortality; its an inevitability of life. Just a penny for a thought, -The Rabid One

Letter Re: Asian Avian Flu

Hello Jim,
Your readers and contributors include a fair number of medical professionals. With all the hype in the news regarding “the coming pandemic” of Avian Flu, I’d be curious to get their professional take on it. Specifically, do they see it as a real threat and if so, what advice they would have for laymen. Thanks, – Dutch in Wyoming

JWR Replies: I ‘m hoping that some of our readers who are medical professionals chime in on this subject. In the interim, Dr. Geri Guidetti of The Ark Institute kindly provided this article on Asian Avian Flu on her web site. In essence, the great unanswered question is: What are the statistical chances of the Asian Avian Flu mutating to a different strain that could jump to humans? If that percentage chance is 5% or more within the span of a year, then I wouldn’t want to be in the life insurance business. If that chance is 10% or more, then it might be wise to accelerate your plans to move to a farm or ranch in a lightly populated region where there is the opportunity to live in self-sufficient isolation. (Assuming of course that this bug will be spread by person to person contact rather than on the winds.)

Letter Re: Retreat Potential of The Carolinas

Mr. Rawles–many thanks for the response! We live in Henderson county and before that my family lived up in Buncombe county, so I laughed when I read the letter from your other reader. Henderson county has an extremely high per capita savings and a LOT of poor people, so somebody is skewing the results somehow. Lots of rich transplants from up North. Jurassic Park. Buncombe county is on a lot of “best places to live” lists…and real estate and cost of living increases reflect that. Rolling Stone magazine called it the “freak capital of the south”…and it is. Kind of the “San Francisco of the east coast”. Henderson County is where the Mother Earth News was started and produced for many of the early years, Back Home magazine [published by the original editors of the pre-yuppie era Mother Earth News] is still produced down the road from us…so there is a history of “back to the landers” around here…but the days of cheap farm land is long past. The minute a place hits the “best place to live list” seems to be kind of a kiss of death….both Hendersonville and Asheville are on all the lists.[JWR Comments: The same thing happened to Sandpoint, Idaho and Missoula Montana.]
On another note, my father grew up near St. Maries, Idaho. from what I remember…still owns 40 acres up there so hopefully we’ll get a chance to relocate at some point. I agree that Idaho is pretty great…not as trendy as Colorado or some of the other western states. Hopefully it will stay that way for a while. Good fortune getting some of the other readers to ante up…a buck per 50,000 readers would keep you up and running for a while, I suppose. Looking forward to reading the blog. – P.R.

JWR Adds: Boston T. Party’s rankings (in Boston’s Gun Bible) on firearms freedom are North Carolina: 66%, and South Carolina: 64%

Note from JWR:

Many thanks to those of you that recently sent web hosting/bandwidth contributions! In the past 24 hours we’ve received enough contributions to pay for almost an entire year of web hosting. Once again, many thanks, folks!

A number of easterners have written in the past few days, asking me to rank the eastern states by their survival retreat potential. As a fourth generation westerner, I don’t feel qualified to make a well-informed analysis of the eastern states, much less rank them. I would greatly appreciate comments from our readers in eastern states that have recommendations on retreat locales. I will be happy to post them so that some sort of informal consensus on the best retreat locales in the east can be reached.

Today, I’m covering a region in Washington in my detailed retreat locale analysis series.

Recommended Region: The Walla Walla Region (Walla Walla and Columbia Counties, Southeast Washington)

This is one of the best dry land farming regions in eastern Washington. The drive east of Walla Walla is like a trip back in time to typical 1950s American farming country. Aside from the satellite dishes and the now ubiquitous crop sprayer tank trailers, not much has changed since then! When searching for a potential retreat, concentrate on the small towns east of Walla Walla proper–like Waitsburg and Dayton, but none smaller than Dixie.
Statistics (for Walla Walla):
Average high temperature in August:
Average low temperature in January:
Growing season: 190 days.
Average snowfall in January: 19.8” (64.7” annually.)
Walla Walla County Median residential home price: $114,300.

Advantages: Proximity to good hunting and firewood sources in “The Blues.” Precipitation is sufficiently plentiful year-round to provide reliable dry land farming. Crops in the region include: Wheat, peas (including seed peas), barley, rye, sugar beets, alfalfa (for hay and seed), and of course the famous Walla Walla sweet onions. Sadly, even though the climate is favorable, truck farming has declined in the past few decades.(There used to be a wider variety of vegetables grown–but now most of the truck farmers have switched to the Walla Walla sweet onions since they are a more sure cash crop with few spoilage problems.)

Disadvantages: A Washington State maxiumum security prision is located near Walla Walla. This could prove problematic isn grid down situation! (it houses 16% of the state’s worst criminals, including approximately 116 sex offenders. The current inmate population is 2277. Walla Walla is sometimes downwind from the Umatilla chemical weapons storage depot, depending on the winds. The large college-age population could produce a sizable displaced population in the event of a sudden-onset TEOTWAWKI. (There are three colleges and Universities in Walla Walla.) Heavy winter snowfall.

Grid Up Retreat Potential: 3 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Grid Down Retreat Potential: 7 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Nuclear Scenario Retreat Potential: 5 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Lister Low RPM Engines Still Made in India!

I have been a fan of one and two cylinder engines for many years. I grew up seeing these old timers putt-putting away at the county fair. Stationary engines still have a surprisingly large hobbyist following in the U.S. and Australia. Steam engines dominated from the 1860s to 1890s. Then came several different styles of one and two cylinder gas or diesel engines. They were eventually supplanted by higher compression (Briggs and Stratton style) high RPM gasoline engines. Because of their simplicity, low compression/low RPM engines still have considerable utility for grid-down survival use. They were common on most American farms until rural electrification programs got into full swing and as high compression engines came into vogue. Here in the U.S., they stopped making low compression stationary engines in the 1930s. But I was surprised to read that they are still making low RPM Lister-type engines in India. See: (One thing about the Third World mentality–they never discard a useful set of tooling! Perhaps we should learn something from that…)

If you are worried about a long term TEOTWAWKI, I consider these “appropriate technology” for retreats. They are low RPM, most have “bomb-proof” cast iron cylinders, and they are easy to maintain and re-build. With a good size flywheel they can be used to run generators for battery bank charging. A small steam engine would work, but they are a bit more tricky to operate, and generally require more maintenance.

Letter Re: The Wallowa Region

Mr. Rawles concerning the Wallowa Lake area a few points. Whether or not these are good or bad I leave to you. Around the lake itself the area is expanding as new homes are being built along the southern side of the lake. The region has become a popular tourist area due to events like the Chief Joseph Days which is held in August in Joseph. It includes a decent size rodeo and parade. In Joseph there are several large bronze foundries which serves to draw a number of folks to the area to see the works. Since a modest portion of the town’s population is employed in the hospitality industry serving the guests it means that much of the income must be earned during the summer months. Winter in that part of the country can get intense which can severely limit access. According to my wife’s grandparents who live in Lostine, real estate prices are climbing as more and more people “discover” the area. I hope these things help. Please keep up the great work with the site and thanks for the hard work. It is much appreciated. I have directed several of my like minded friends there. – M.S.

Letter Re: Retreat Potential of The Carolinas

Hi Jim,
I understand that you are looking for more detailed information on Carolina retreat locales. My wife and I both grew up here and have traveled quite a bit of the state. We live in the western end of the state (The Blue Ridge Mountains.) As far as the East is concerned, I’m with Joel Skousen as he gives it an “A”. As long as you stay out of Buncombe, Henderson, and Macon counties. They’ve been invaded by rich Floridians, yuppies, hippies and drug-heads. But they do offer many employment opportunities, especially in the elder-care, nursing home, health related fields.

We live at about 2,300 ft, have abundant rainfall, and average about 6 inches of snowfall per year. We live in a county of 29,000 folks, very conservative, good many retired as well. There are many retreat locales available here for sale. But the influx of “carpet baggers” has bid the price up in many places. NC definitely has a reputation as the most heavily taxed state in the Southeast. High gas taxes and emissions inspections are creeping westward as well. Luckily, there are only 2 interstates that cut through this end of the state, I-26 and I-40, but they don’t come close to the areas we would want to be in.

Eric Rudolph gave the far western end of the state (Andrews/Murphy) a pretty bad reputation while he was on the lam. But that area has excellent retreat potential/low population as well. In many of these counties, methamphetamine/crack has become a big problem, with the petty robberies,etc that goes with it.

Should anyone have more detailed questions, they can e-mail me at: Keep up the fine work!! – S.P.

Letter Re: L1A1 Rifle Bolt Hold Open Modification

The pin on my L1A1 bolt hold open was cut off. Do you have the part that holds the pin with a pin that has not been cut off? Thanks for the help. – The Texas Aggie

JWR Replies:
Most countries that issued the L1A1 foolishly specified them without a working automatic bolt hold-open (for after the last cartridge in the magazine is fired), even though it is part of the original design. This specification change was ostensibly done because they didn’t want dirt or sand entering the action when the bolt was held open. I suspect, however, that it had more to do with making close order drill command for “inspection arms” (or the British equivalent) less cumbersome.

I don’t sell bolt-hold-open (BHO) levers. However, BHOs with the hole pre-drilled–so that they are easily convertible to “open after the last shot in the magazine”–are available from a number of parts vendors including (See the BHO comparison photos at the Gun Things web site before ordering.) If yours already has the cross-pin hole drilled then all that you need to “do it yourself” is clamp the BHO in a vise and use some sturdy pliers to twist and remove the short cross-pin. Then replace it with a longer one. (One that is long enough to engage the magazine follower.) This is much easier than trying to locate and drill a hole in a standard L1A1 BHO lever! For the cross pin, solid drill rod works best if you can find rod stock to match the correct diameter, but a roll pin (a.k.a. a tubular “spring” pin) usually works just fine. Adding a roll pin to the existing hole is quick and easy: Cut a roll pin to the same length as that on a metric FAL–long enough to be engaged by the magazine follower, but not so long that it will get hung-up at the wrong time. This can take some judicious filing. Just go slow or you might file off too much and then have to start over with a new roll pin.

Letter From Fred The Valmet-meister Re: Asian Avian Flu

I heard Dr. Bill Wattenburg on KGO last night talking about the Asian bird flu. I also read the link you gave to the article on WorldNetDaily. Dr. Bill really scared me this time! I am a bit depressed hearing what he said last night. He said that if the virus does make the jump to humans, it will kill half the population of the Earth. I’m not kidding he said that. He said it would be worse than a nuclear bomb going off in the major big cites because everyone would try to flee. Oh my God. I think we’ll be living in caves at this rate of Doom and Gloom.
I think if that does happen, the grid will be up with hardly anyone using it. – Fred

JWR Replies: A species-line crossing mutation of the Asian Avian Flu is not likely. (I’d hazard a a guess at less than a 2% chance anytime in the next decade–perhaps some of the doctors who read SurvivalBlog would care to comment) But if Dr. Bill is right–if it does happen, then it would be devastating, possibly plunging the world into a second Dark Age. See my blog archives (including my post on August 8th and the the letter from Nurse “Alma Frances Livengood” that was posted on August 23rd). The latter described which drugs to keep on hand, just in case.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“Suburbs have become the heirs to their cities’ problems. They have pollution, high taxes, crime. People thought they would escape all those things in the suburbs. But like the people in Boccaccio’s Decameron, they ran away from the plague and took it with them.”
– Charles Haar