Letter Re: “Square Foot” Gardening Techniques

You should certainly stock up to protect against a disaster, but meanwhile, here’s a website which will teach you how to start “square-foot” gardening now, so you can take care of yourself and yours now and post-disaster, See: http://www.squarefootgardening.com/
Note: this method will also provide work/food for everybody/anybody you find under your wing. And the “work” part: a feeling of being a contributor may be as important as the food. I heard the man lecture and this Saturday I will attend a workshop on constructing and completing a square-foot garden–but clearly it’s not rocket science. It is something everybody can start doing and thus feel they are participating in your preparation plans, even if they think that you are a bit of a fanatic.

BTW, I paid full price for the same book that he’ll sell you for 1/2 the price on the web site (Grrrrr!) – B.B.

Letter Re: Manufactured Homes Versus “Stick Built” Homes for Retreats + Gun Questions

Dear Jim:
I am completely impressed with the level of data and analysis on your blog site! However, there is one subject I have yet to see discussed. When looking for a homestead/retreat have you evaluated a manufactured home versus a conventional\ stick and frame house? Around these parts lots of rural properties come with manufactured/mobile homes as part of the deal. What is your opinion as to the type of housing to be used for your homestead/retreat?

I also have a few questions concerning some answers to a previous e-mail:
1.) You had mentioned a CETME weapon. What exactly is it and can you tell me something about it?
2.) What kind of AR-10 do you recommend?
3.) You recommended purchasing hollow point .22 bullets. I have noticed a lot of soft point .22 are available. Are
these similar? Any advantage of hollow vs. soft points in .22?

As always thanx for your input.
B’shem Moshiach Yahshua, – Dr. Sidney Zweibel, Columbia P&S

JWR: Replies:

On Manufactured Homes Versus “Stick Built” Homes: If you aren’t worried about ballistic protection, then a manufactured home (also called a mobile home) is probably a good choice. Most built these days have 2×6 stud walls and are very well insulated. If you are moving to an area where they are commonplace, then buying a manufactured home will help you to blend in. You certainly won’t be looked at as a pretentious newcomer! The only serious downside is resale value–but that is hardly an issue for most survival retreats.

Regarding your firearms questions:
1.) The CETME is the Spanish-made predecessor of the HK-91–a semi-auto magazine-fed rifle chambered in .308 Winchester. A lot of CETME parts kits landed on American shores in the past few years, and most have been built-up with semi auto-only American made receivers. The result: a fairly reliable +/-$350 semi-auto .308 rifle that can utilize dirt cheap HK-91 alloy magazines. (See previous posts on this subject.) The CETME is a good choice as a primary rifle for someone that is on a very tight budget. (For example fixed-income retirees or starving college students.)
2.) I recommend the American Spirit brand AR-10, because it uses standard FN-FAL magazines, which are cheap and plentiful. Some of the AR-10s from other makers require expensive OEM magazines. In general, I prefer FALs/L1A1s or M1As over AR-10s, since AR-10s share one major design flaw with the AR-15: a gas system that blows powder fouling back into the action.
3.) The .22 LR hollow points are only marginally better for small game hunting than standard copper-washed soft points. (They only expand slightly better.) But, I predict that they’ll be preferred for barter purposes, because most of your potential customer will be doing their shooting for the stew pot, and hollow points will be perceived as better for this purpose.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“Stand your ground.
Don’t fire unless fired upon,
But if they mean to have a war,
Let it begin here!”
– Captain John Parker, Lexington Minute Company, April 19, 1775

Note from JWR:

Today, I’m covering New Mexico, the 11th of 19 western states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential.

Because we now have several advertisers, we have made the right-hand advertising bar automatically scroll up and down at intervals so that all of the ads come into view. If this scrolling distracts you, just leave your mouse pointer anywhere in the right-hand ad bar and it will cease auto-scrolling.

Our advertising rates will increase on October 1st. If you know of any potential advertisers, please let them know that they have the opportunity to lock in the current low rates for up six months.(As little as $40 per month for a 50 x 200 pixel banner ad that will be seen by more than 25,000 readers daily. That is just a pittance compared to buying a magazine ad, which most readers will see only once.) Many of our current advertisers report that their business has more than doubled since they’ve been advertising on SurvivalBlog!

State By State – New Mexico

New Mexico:
Population: 1.8 million.
Population Density: 14.8 per square mile (Rank 15 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 121,593 square miles (rank 5 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $828/yr. (rank 14 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $450/yr. (rank 27 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 44 of 50.
Per capita income: $21,931 (rank 48 of 50).
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 87%.
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 30 of 50.
Plusses: Low population density. Minimal gun laws. People in New Mexico’s rural areas are already highly self-sufficient, out of economic necessity.
Minuses: Proximity to Mexican border. Water is scarce in much of the state. (Many families haul all of their drinking water from town and store it in large cisterns. That would have dubious utility in a TEOTWAWKI-style collapse.) Economically, New Mexico is essentially like a Third World country within the U.S. The least well-educated population of any state. Expensive car insurance rates. Unfortunately the most mild climate zone in New Mexico (the southwest corner) is also very close to the Mexican border. Low wages. High crime rate. Note: Look for natural gas producing areas so that you can run your pickup on “drip” oil. (See my posts in the Archives on alternate fuels.) Some portions of the state with low population density are recommended.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 15 of 19.

From David in Israel Re: Traveling Cross-Country Undetected

After our recent Gush Katif removal of Jews because of their religion I have seen firsthand people who had to do a grid up bugout. I suggest having all 110/220 VAC gadgets in your pack at a minimum immersion boiler and battery charger these will take up a few grams and make your life easier by not wasting cooking fuel and lantern fuel, a lightweight extension cord may not be a bad idea either if room/weight permits. Sneaking into Gaza to protest (it felt freaky sneaking through Arab villages) reminded me of several important things which I hope to write about at length. But for starters: Have a decent heavy duty wire cutter for both concertina and cyclone fence. Only travel (if possible) with a trained group. Infrared cameras are mounted on drones for personnel detection, if you are in an unauthorized place have plans to defeat FLIR both cameras and airborne (an umbrella is pretty effective). The cellular system is operated totally at the whim of the powers that be not to mention acts of G-d destroying the infrastructure. The cellular system also allows you to be found within a few meters of your location every time your phone is powered up similar to GPS (AT&T in the USA allows you to access this function). Never assume that roads will be open even if it was open only hours ago! Be ready to have to get out and walk, or use a dirt bike. If a cash reward is offered and times are hard a person would be surprised that even hostile Arabs will call the army. Have a VERY detailed map of possible areas readable in red light and NVGs use map compass and GPS. A piece of aluminum foil with a pinhole behind your flashlight lens is good for reading a map, don’t forget your light discipline including infrared lights.

Letter Re: Advice on West Virginia’s Retreat Potential?

Mr. Rawles,
I’m a huge fan of your work, and was pleasantly surprised to come across Survivalblog during the course of my cyber-travels. It has become my new source for survival info. I particularly enjoy your state-by-state retreat potential evaluations. As a lifelong resident of the east coast, and an eight year resident of Virginia, I’m kind of geographically anchored to this section of the country. My family’s here, too. Consequently, I’m rather limited in terms of my choice of retreat locations. I will be graduating from law school (God willing) in May 2006, and hope to do real estate settlement work, as it will give me some flexibility in terms of work locations. Plus, it will ensure that I am able to avoid engaging in the sort of lawyering that would conflict with my beliefs (my wife and I are fundamentalist Baptists). I’ve had my eye on West Virginia for awhile, as it seems to offer the greatest potential within this limited region. I would really appreciate your thoughts on the matter. – “Mo”

JWR’s Reply:

As mentioned in previous posts, I don’t consider anything east of the Mississippi River to be survivable if and when things get truly Schumeresque. (The East has too much population density and is downwind of too many nuke targets.) Read my posts from early August, 2005 in the Archives for details.

With the mobility that your new profession will afford you, I strongly suggest that you move out West. (Preferably the inland northwest.) With a lawyer’s income you can afford to fly home frequently to visit relatives. But if you must stay in the east, move to a very lightly populated rural area and construct a very well stocked fallout shelter.

I am not familiar enough with West Virginia to make any specific locale recommendations. Perhaps someone who reads the blog who lives there will send me an e-mail and enlighten us.

State By State – Nevada

Population: 2 million.
Population Density: 18 per square mile (Rank 13 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 110,561 square miles (rank 7 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $937/yr. (rank 7 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $479/yr. (rank 21 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 49 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 76%.
Per capita income: $29,506 (15 rank of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 25 of 50.
Comments: One editor listed in the acknowledgements stubbornly insists
that my ranking below is unfair to parts of Nevada. Nevada is really “a tale of two states”: Las Vegas and then all the rest. Las Vegas has the same urban problems as Los Angeles, which affects the insurance and crime numbers above. Las Vegas has a severe desert climate that is hostile to agriculture, and most residents are dependent on water from elsewhere. Las Vegas is not worth of consideration, and its influence on the state’s statistics conceals a very viable and potentially desirable relocation alternative in Northern Nevada.
Plusses: No income tax, relatively pro-gun ownership, except for Clark County’s (Las Vegas) handgun registration laws. Northern Nevada, particularly Reno and the Carson Valley (which will be listed second tier relocation region in my subsequent posts) have mild summers not requiring air-conditioning, ample water from snow melt from the Sierra Nevada mountain range, widespread ranching and hay production, better schools than Las Vegas, and solidly conservative political demographics (except for inner Reno). Healthy economy with many companies relocating from California. Northern Nevada is considered an ideal off-the-grid solar power location, with plenty of sun during the moderately chilly winters.

Nevada is not recommended for a survivalist with a small to moderate budget. However, for someone who is wealthy and who can stand the climate, Nevada should be bumped up a notch or two. Taxes will be a big issue for you—and Nevada has no income tax. As someone “of means” you will be able to afford lots of food storage, voluminous fuel storage, and a large greenhouse to make up for the hot summers/cold winters climate of the Nevada high country. (See my posts in a week or two for specific recommendations within Nevada.)
Minuses: Expensive land in the more desirable areas with plentiful water. May suffer from the “Golden Horde” effect–a huge wave of refugees and looters pouring in from more populous California in in the event of an abrupt TEOTWAWKI. Water is scarce in Nevada, at least south and east of the Sierras.Also consider: extremely high crime rate (Las Vegas severely skews this statistic), minimal agriculture (except for some hay growing and ranching in the northern portions of the state), high sales tax, expensive car registration for newer cars (but a friend in Nevada reports that a 10-year-old vehicle that was originally purchased for $50,000 costs only $68 per year to register), exploding population growth (the fastest in the U.S. due primarily to Las Vegas), the lowest church attendance rate in the country (ranked 50 of 50 – the state is more libertarian than conservative), and heavy dependence on gambling for tax revenue. Has a low rating in “education freedom” (ranked #47 of 50). While Nevada’s calculated per capita “tax burden” is 12% higher than the national average for all 50 states, much of this comes from tourist gambling revenues, so those non-gamblers in their prime earning years may still find Nevada to be a relatively low tax haven. Nevada has refreshingly lax incorporation laws. There is a risk that statewide political control could shift to the pro-tax liberals of Las Vegas (although the state Constitution requires a 2/3 majority to create an income tax). Some central and northern regions of the state with plentiful surface water are recommended—but with provisos.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 14 of 19 (Note: I’d probably rank it at 7 or 8 if it weren’t for Las Vegas.)

The Ghillie Suit–The Ultimate in Camouflage

Back in the 18th century, game wardens in Scotland were engaged in an occasionally deadly game of cat and mouse with poachers. These wardens–called “ghillies” in the local parlance of the day were experts in field craft. To catch a poacher was difficult, so the ghillies would cut tree or bush limbs and cover themselves with them as camouflage while in laying in wait. This was laborious, but worked well. Then a warden whose name is lost in history came up with a clever idea: A camouflage body suit that was made of shredded rags in dull earth-tone and foliage-toned colors. From a short distance, the man wearing it resembled a bush, and could not be easily recognized. Thus was born the Ghillie Suit. The first use of ghillie suits by military organizations recorded by historians was during WWI, when Scottish ghillies served with Lord Lovat’s Scouts, brought their camouflage suits with them for the fighting in the fields of France. The ghillies in the Lovat Scouts shared their expertise in stalking, long range shooting, and camouflage, which spread to other British Commonwealth armies.

The modern ghillie suit, re-popularized in the late 20th century in the British and U.S. armies is now standard wear for sniper teams in most western armies. These modern ghillie suits use the same concept, providing four key attributes: they look like like plant foliage, they occupy three dimensions (unlike camouflage printed cloth), they break up a soldier’s distinctive silhouette, and they muffle noise. There are two common designs:

A full ghillie suit, which is usually made by sewing ghillie garnish (typically strips/bundles of dyed burlap, jute, and/or hemp) to a set of green mechanic’s overalls or to a BDU shirt and trousers

A ghillie cape, which is draped over the head and shoulders like a poncho.

(BTW, I prefer the latter, especially in hot climates.) Both designs are nearly always used in conjunction with a camouflage face veil and a boonie-type hat with similar ghillie garnish.

Ghillie suits and capes are commercially made, but these tend to be very expensive (since they are labor-intensive to assemble) and the choice of colors used will not always match your local terrain. Avoid the cheap commercial ghillie suits that are made out of plastic. They are indeed three dimensional but they do not blend in well in the boonies compared to natural materials like burlap and jute. Some commercial sources include:




And for our Australian readers, see: http://www.kitbag.com.au/category240_1.htm

Do It Yourself (DIY) ghillie suit/cape construction resources on the web include:

U.S. Army FM 23-10: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/23-10/ch42.htm



There are also fairly detailed ghillie suit making instructions in one for my favorite books, The Ultimate Sniper. See: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0873647041/103-6870669-0552625?v=glance

If you want to save money and assemble all of the materials yourself, rather than buy a commercially-made assembly kit:

Heavy duty black or brown nylon netting–such as deep sea fishing net material– (the 1.5-inch square mesh works best) is often found for sale on eBay.

The folks at http://www.gunpartscorp.com sell fairly inexpensive military surplus rolls of 1.5″ wide burlap that is already dyed green and brown. Stripping out most of the horizontal crossbars (the Memsahib–who is a weaver–tells me this is properly called “weft”) is time consuming, but it is necessary to make burlap frizz up into a proper three dimensional look.

Two more points, in closing: Don’t overlook the need to integrate a hydration pack (such as a CamelBack or clone thereof) with a drinking tube when you build your ghillie suit. (This is not a big issue with a cape, but it is with a full ghillie suit.) It is also very important that you thoroughly soak your completed ghillie suit in flame retardant before using it. Without it, all of that frayed burlap is a fire accident that is just waiting to happen! In my experience the FlameCheck brand retardant (made in England) works well, because it does not leave a white residue like some other brands.

Article on Revised U.S. Nuclear Strike Doctrine

The Pentagon has drafted a considerably new strategy on nuclear strike options. See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/10/AR2005091001053_pf.html This is some serious FFTAGFFR! From the standpoint of national security, it is probably a sound strategy, but in some instances (such as the emerging threat from North Korea), IMO it will raise the risk of a full scale nuclear exchange. Plan accordingly! (If you live in the blast radius or downwind from a potential nuclear target, then it is wise to move.)

Letter Re: Request for Clarification Regarding Diesel Engine Invulnerability to EMP

Jim, I’m no expert but I have some limited knowledge regarding the topic of diesel engines and EMP. What you want is a diesel engine with a mechanical fuel injector pump, not an electronic one. Diesel engines don’t require ignition systems to run, no spark plugs, distributor, etc. and the old ones used a mechanical fuel pump. All you need is a starter to turn the engine over, it runs or fires by the heat generated by the compression stroke. [JWR adds: A glow plug is also needed for the fuel to reach flash point at low ambient temperatures. Some of the newer diesels use an electronic glow plug control, which could possibly be bypassed if they are someday fried by EMP.] No ignition system, therefore impervious to EMP. Since the mid to late 80’s manufacturer’s have switched to electronic fuel pumps so even though you don’t have spark plugs, etc., the engine has “electronics” for fuel regulation. Now you have EMP problems. Hope this helps. – T.N.

Letter Re: Blood Transfusion Equipment Available

I read the letter you posted from “Mr. Lima” about what his friend “W” had told him. Other than knowing your blood type ahead of time, the rest of the letter is wrong. I’m not sure if “Lima” misunderstood “W.” or if “W.” only works in a lab on samples and machines and has never had any patient contact or he just mistook one substance for another after so many years in the lab. FWIW, the laboratories and blood banks in today’s hospitals are two separate and different departments. Short and sweet: EDTA anticoagulated blood can (and mostly likely always will) kill a person. EDTA has never been used (at least not since the days of trying to infuse humans with cows blood) to anticoagulate donor blood and has never been available in “blood donor bags from the blood bank”. EDTA bonds with calcium (irreversibly) and prevents clotting in blood sample tubes (vacutainers) and has seen some use in certain lab machinery. EDTA is a chemical compound and has other issues that could cause massive problems to a person aside from coagulopathy, it would alter a persons blood chemistry and I can only make educated guesses as to the outcomes since no data is available on EDTA entering a person’s vascular system. EDTA bonds with calcium because it is a metal ion, which means any metal ions in the blood (and finally the body) could be bonded. All those ‘guesses’ would result in major systemic problems that would invariably lead to death, 99%+ could be assured in a SHTF situation and not much better even with access to modern medicine. Coumadin (a.k.a. Warfarin) is not an anticoagulant in the sense of preventing clotting when drawing blood. Warfarin drugs work by inhibiting certain functions of the body from producing different factors that make up the clotting cascade. This is why they are commonly referred to as ‘blood thinners’. Obviously giving Coumadin to prevent immediate clotting won’t work, because it doesn’t deactivate the clotting cascade, it just prevents certain factors from being replaced once they expire normally in the body. It is unlike Heparin in that Heparin works immediately to interrupt the cascade rather than removing a factor or two. Getting blood bags with Citrate (CPDA-1 or ACD-A) from the blood bank is what a person would want and is also my personal choice. I keep some Heparin as well as a backup, but I wouldn’t use it until I exhaust my supply of CPDA-1 bags. So, never give Coumadin in the field. If there is some sort of need to ‘thin’ a patient’s blood (high blood pressure perhaps) then go on an aspirin regimen. Another bonus of Citrate as an anticoagulant is that once the blood is back into a person’s body the calcium in there body replaces the bound calcium and you almost instantly viable platelets again! Thus you kill two birds with one stone. Fresh RBCs and more coagulation factors and platelets to stop the bleeding. It’s really a beautiful thing. If you have any atheist friends, tell them to learn about blood. Just blood. Once they know it, I would be surprised if they can still deny that Divine intervention led to our existence. The complexity of how everything works just to form a clot a clot, let alone fix the clot is astounding. That is another topic however. In the future I would suggest getting some independent people to review some of the letters you put on the blog before you post them. I don’t know where anyone would find EDTA easily other that breaking open those vacutainers and just the thought of that sends chills down my spine. EDTA is used in cases of lead poisoning, but it’s is a sterilized and specific format. The patient’s blood gases and values must be constantly monitored to ensure no harm comes to the patient. This is not the same thing as the EDTA powder in laboratory vacutainers! I would be more than happy to review the hematology aspects of those posts, however I like most medical professionals are like insects. We specialize and I have already forgotten a lot of that too 🙁 I’m working on that as part of my preparations as well. I love the blog and keep it up!
P.S.: If you have free time (wishful thinking) drop by AssaultWeb.net, we have a good group of Christian Patriots on the board.

JWR Replies: Thanks for setting us straight, Buckaroo! I will remove that erroneous post so that nobody mistakenly refers to it in the future.

Letter Re: Koyaanisqatsi–and Getting Back In Balance

I debated for four or five weeks about whether or not to write an email to you, as I know that you must receive too many already, and others probably offer information and mine only offers praise and thanks. I finally decided, that everyone could use encouragement and praise, so here goes…
I read your novel [Patriots] for the first time many years ago, several times since, and have worked it into my 5-6 book current reading stack. It was my first exposure to another way of viewing the world, and it alone, was responsible for opening my eyes and mind to a looming menace in our present “Koyaanisqatsi”. [“koy-yan-iss-katsi”–meaning “life out of balance” in the Hopi language.] I grew up on a farm in Kansas and have been living my adult yuppie life in Kalifornia for twenty plus years now. I have returned mentally, to my agrarian roots and self sufficiency that my grandparents taught me when I was a child on the farm and am PREPARING. I am currently making plans to leave our suburban existence and move my family to a rural farm setting. My wife and I are both readying for the transition. I found your blog soon after you started it by re-visiting bookmarks in by browser folder, titled “TEOTWAWKI”, that I created when I read your book the first time and what a great resource!
I hope to have information in the future to share with you and the readers of your blog as another silent member of your blogosphere whose life you have touched by your creativity, willingness, and drive to share what you imagine and see. In short, Thanks, God Bless, and keep up the good work. – C.J., Southern California