The Semi-Prepper – Part 2, by Francis

(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the article.)

In addition I stress myself at the range by exercising when I get there (running, pushups, jumping jacks.)  The idea is to degrade my performance by tiring and winding myself, which will show me how I will shoot under stress. Since I’m now in my 70’s, I feel the best home defense weapon is a rifle. Semiautomatic pistols are great but a rifle with its’ longer sight radius leads me to be more accurate. Also as I get older I am concerned about the complexity of the “manual of arms” for the AR-15, especially under stress and pressure and am now relying on the lever gun, Henry Repeating Arms, a great American company, they are simple, with no detachable magazine load or drop, no bolt release, no charging handle, and no safety to switch. There is a safety but no switch. They are not complex–just work the lever and trigger to use–and quite accurate. I understand they are limited in number of rounds but that is a tradeoff that I’m willing to take. Mine are tube fed. I’ve made (out of plastic pipe) a quick feeding device similar to the other tube feeding devices, but not as slick as commercial ones.

I have an M1 Garand, caliber .30-06. Note that the Garand should not be fired with today’s civilian .30-06 cartridges as modern day soft nose civilian hunting cartridges generate too much pressure. But there are cartridges made today that are suitable for the Garand. I generally shoot Greek Army surplus ammunition. My shoulder does not like the recoil so I used a Limbsaver recoil pad. It really does help. I also put one on my AR-15 and the results are great.

Some time ago, the surprise came to me when a friend stopped on the way to Florida. He wanted to shoot the M1 so we went to the range. I had won a steel target and target stand made for larger calibers on a stand so we shot at 110 yards. I did not expect him to shoot as well as myself and he did kick up some dust near the target. When we went to retrieve the target, the steel target was missing some paint but the stand had holes in it. The steel for the stand was ¼ inch thick. The AR-15 we shot barely scratched the stand. So with that we went to more than one rifle that will shoot the .30-06 cartridge. The target is a Shootsteel, Inc. Magnum Autopopper. They are very well made, and fun to use.

I reload and only buy in bulk for defensive ammunition.

FOOD:

More than 10 years ago (remember the financial crisis of 2008?) I purchased some long term storage food. A few days ago, I tried some of the food from 10 years of storage. It was not delicious but easy to eat over five days and it did not upset my stomach but…

We have grandchildren and I doubt if they would eat it happily. Thus a word of caution, if you intend to use it, I’d use it as a supplement, one or two of the long term food meals per day and regular food for the rest of the day. The packaging states a low calorie count, but it is filling.   We are now looking into long term storage of foods such as flour, rice, beans, and vegetables.

WATER:

We have a nice new home built in 2012. To meet the Energy Plus goal it has an instantaneous hot water heater, thus no water storage so we have 100 gallons in two food grade barrels in the garage. They are overed by the boxes they came in. We also rotate some bottled water. There is a significant reservoir about 2 miles from us. I have started to look into water purification. I’ve decided to assume the municipal water system may not get the chemicals needed to treat the water properly or fail in some other way. Therefore I will be looking into water filtration to include viruses. We have a generator and water pump so I can fill as much as I want.

ELECTRICITY:

As I mentioned we have a generator: it’s small on purpose as it uses little gasoline and it is easy to move if we have to bug out. It certainly will not provide power for the entire house but rotating between circuits will cover hot water, heat, refrigerator and freezer and some lighting. I installed a transfer switch in the garage. Loss of power won’t put us out of electricity. We have extra gasoline stored and rotated. A note here: The generator is for loss of power. It is for bare bones operation, not “whole house”. By being small, it uses a lot less gasoline and we will not be running it 24/7. It is an emergency generator.

HOME SECURITY:

Our house is a standard residential home, nothing special. We use two independent camera security systems and a good independent alarm system tied into the police. I reinforced our front door with extra metal in the door frame (purchased from Lowe’s) and will be adding a second bolt lock, keyless from the outside, with removable key on the interior. We have fenced in the back yard with ornamental fencing with spikes that are vertical. The two gates are locked. We have to look into the strength of the rear door as we’re not satisfied with its strength. The exterior doors are where I feel someone will most likely attempt to break in.

MEDICINES:

One serious condition: I have asthma and through careful planning we have over one year of a breathing drug, which I can stretch to two years. Since we are in the warm South, a power loss will leave me in incredible heat which is not healthy for me. We’ll be buying a small room air conditioner soon which will run off of the generator.

We have added some of the usual: aspirin, Tylenol, medical kits, etc. We also have some prescriptions that we did not use. We have other medicines that are for animals but will work well for us.

FINANCES:

We are retired with what I consider a good income. Though we have some money in the stock market, we also have gold and silver coins, savings in banks and other assets (you have to diversify your finances). But here we got caught: Wells Fargo shut down the branch where we have some of our gold, silver and jewelry and we could not get to the branch until they opened again on May 11 by appointment only. This should serve as another caution: Spread your assets around and assume in a financial collapse you won’t be able to get to all of them or that some of them will plummet in value. Look what Greece did. Folks had a significant amount of money and assets in the banks, they were limited to very small maximum withdrawals, this was in 2015. In 2013 the banks in Cyprus, were forced by the EU agreement to stop withdrawals, cut 10% of the deposited value and after that depositors were charged 20 to 25% taxes on interest earned. Unfortunately, I do not trust the banking system or the federal government to be honest and fair.

COMMUNICATIONS:

We have shortwave radios as do our children. The Federal government can broadcast emergency information to every phone in the country. (Read about the President’s ability to send a message or note to you). What this really means is the government, with the help of the phone companies can shut down all communications at any time by broadcasting garbage or directing the phone companies to only allow specific phones to work. We have plans, set up rendezvous times and places for our family members if needs be. We are to act on these plans in the event of a Communications blackout or other problems.

READ THESE BOOKS:

Read: Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse by James Rawles. This is the best of all the series. Its is an outstanding book for learning what you don’t have and how to get it. I’ve read it several times and have/should/would like to act on many of the things he discusses but we don’t have the money right now. It is absolutely prescient for today when you think of the money the government is printing, the attitude of many of our “leaders”, globalism, etc. It is also specific as far as many of the preparedness items I’ve discussed here. In several cases I’ve glossed over and not even discussed action items we took from this book because of OPSEC. Also, I’ve recently lent it to friends who gave it to other friends. I also have a digital copy.

Read: The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It’s interesting and at times funny. He holds no punches about banks and the government. Applying his thoughts to our lives leads me to know we’ve had many Black Swan events in our personal lives and in our country’s and did not realize it. We have to somehow prepare for another unforeseen negative event……how to do that? Cover all bases as much as possible, do some critical thinking.

Read: One Second After by William R Forstchen: Great book for learning what you don’t have as things go bad.

With all of the foregoing, I’m not providing just this information as an update or a blueprint as to what to do. Please provide comments as to where our holes are within the parameters that I’ve discussed (i.e. we are probably not moving, heading out of town or temporarily relocating, our age, closeness to our children, etc.) and where you think we are doing well.




34 Comments

  1. You might want to check out the first aid purchase list in Armageddon Medicine. I found it invaluable.

    Also, I’ve experienced mild asthma. I was advised to drink a cup of coffee every morning to help control it. Not liking coffee, I’ve opted for tea. Since then, I rarely need my rescue inhaler.

  2. Although I have and read the books you suggested “One Second After” is the book that “woke” my wife up as to what can and/or will happen, maybe it was because it was so close to home (10 minutes to Black Mountain). I have practice preparedness/survival for 50 years and at 67 now friends & family have finally acknowledged I was the sane one after all, lol!
    Stay the course friends!

  3. Well thought out. You didn’t mention what you will do with your “down time”. I found board games and cards can fill in some of it. Inexpensive and easy to store. I am cutting several “deer paths” through our woods for exercise and fresh air without coming into contact with others. We also “network” with several of our neighbors to watch each others back even in good times. Building trust is essential, but it also lets you ”weed out” the untrustworthy ahead of time.

  4. I have a small (2KW) generator which I converted to tri fuel (gasoline, propane, natural gas)…Propane storage is simpler and longer lasting than gasoline….

  5. I like your comments about lever action. A stainless steel, laminate furniture chambered in a major cartridge is an excellent investment. I have bought plenty of magazines but have never heard of of a tube being replaced.

    1. I had a tube fed .22 that the previous owner had dropped and dented the tube and it would not feed. The brass springy thing that pushes the rounds was very tight due to the dent. I bought it for $12 . The fix was pretty easy, I disassembled it and drove a drill bit through the outer tube, this reformed the tube and cut enough metal away so it once again fed perfectly. You might want to mic the feeding tube and buy a drill of the appropriate size. Between fractional, number, letter, and metric drills you should find one with .001-,002 inch clearance that will work if an accident happens.

  6. Dear Francis, thank you for the thoughtful article. I too have asthma and have returned after several hurricanes to the Deep South to find no power. Consider taking a tool which measures temperature around your house and finding the coolest/shady spot and using a very high power fan or fans plural for your sleeping area or daytime work area. We use one fan to suck out air in the sun side window and one intake fan. The cross flow of air is rather pleasant and we were able to conserve our generator gas after Hurricane Irma much longer using this approach. This allows a very small generator to power our needs (along with a light for reading), it sips gas and we can turn it off when we got to bed.

    Regardless, you will want options – eg. big generator to fire up the air conditioner if you must go that route and the smaller generator for fans as I mentioned above. Understanding that a smaller generator can travel with you to campgrounds and whatnot. Costco (it’s Costco so the website puts gear up periodically) a smaller yellow generator that works for this purpose for $179 and it includes oil, funnel under the brand name Firman. Our larger generator is more serious (Kohler) and would power everything we need but it does indeed consume more gasoline and I can’t put it in my trunk (in a slightly larger plastic bin). Anyhow the Firman is an option to complement other parts of your plan(s).

    Don’t forget a [locking] cable to secure the generator to a pole or run it through a heavy object so that when you leave the property it doesn’t walk off.

    Take care,

  7. My favorite “non-threatening ” arms are a stainless Marlin lever action carbine in .38 Special/.357 Magnum carried with a 7 shot .38 Special/357 Magnum Taurus stainless steel revolver in a flapped leather holster. Revolver has a 6 in. barrel. These arms look “cowboy ” & “hunting” nothing to see here, let’s move on. One would be surprised at how much power the longer barrels add.

    does not wear black tactical gear. Mostly, my outdoor clothes look like what anyone would wear to work in the yard or out on their property.

    After folks get into their 70’s, preps are limited at best. How much should you spend on a bunker, eh, storm shelter, where you may just die of natural causes?

    I guess the whole point of prepping is to not die of starvation or at the hands of some marauder.

    In many areas of US, a several hundred sq. ft. storm shelter could be a life saver from the many violent storms (and maybe a virus?).

    Just remember, a bunker is not a fortress.

    Thank you, Francis, for your great article. And welcome to the USA, you are a great American.

  8. If you are considering storing flour, I’d recommend storing wheat instead. Flour will only last in storage a few years at best. Wheat kernels can last decades. Then get a mill to grind it into flour as you need it. The advantage is you can make your own flour, which will be more nutritious anyways, and you can use the mill on other grains as well should your supply ever run out, or you want to try something different. I have flour in my short term storage and keep it rotated. I have hard red winter wheat berries in long term storage which I can grind as needed or use as is like rice and so on. I prefer the hard red as it has a higher protein content.

  9. Short comment on your lever action weapon. Personally , I think this is an excellent choice since it will probably never be banned (non-military, non-threatening ), it’s quick to operate, and generally ultra reliable. However, I own both a Marlin and a Henry. I favor the Marlin because you can do a “tactical” reload through the loading gate in between rounds fired, since you do not have to lower the weapon and remove a tube. Living in Alaska at one time, I have had to do just this with a grizzly approaching my fishing camp. 45.70 , 4 in the tube. Shoot into the dirt and then slip another round into the tube while the gun is still leveled on the bear. I believe that there are new models of the Henry now that allow both a removable tube as well as a loading gate.

    1. I agree about the Marlin vs Henry. I don’t personally have anything against the Henry, but for lever actions I stick with buying Winchesters and their clones, and older Marlins because I prefer the loading gate. A 45 colt Winchester 92 (or clone) makes a handy package to carry in the woods and around the farm. Works great on deer at closer ranges too.

  10. We very much enjoyed both installments of your article — thank you!

    An interesting question re: post SHTF or TEOTWAKI water supply for anyone relying on a municipal system.

    In the short term, it may be that water is supplied, but may not be “safe” (as defined by the water department). You might explore the protections of a whole house water system including a UV light feature.

    Depending on the nature of the crisis, it may be that water supply itself could be jeopardized in the intermediate period or longer time horizon following a catastrophe (not just unsafe water, but any water). Given the necessity of water for human survival, bolstering safe supplies that would sustain the family should be among the planning priorities. As part of this, remember the importance of redundancy. We hope this helps!

  11. 1) re water, I like the Sawyer model that can be plugged into a plastic bucket. Note, however, that while the sawyer can filter out hard to kill spores as well as bacteria, you need bleach, iodine,boiling etc to kill any viruses.

    It may be useful to have a 5 gallon water can for storage and a garden cart to carry it if you think you might need to fetch water from more than 100 yards away.

    2) You might consider a concealed handgun. Helps if you have to go outside –e.g, to whatever local flea market springs up for barter if the local stores (gas stations, grocery, hardware,etc ) shut down due to lack of deliveries. Guns are loud, knives are not. Just saying..

    You might also look at body armor –not much help to shoot the bad guy if he also shoots you. Level II stops many handgun rounds —level IIIA stops more but is bulky, hard to conceal with summer clothes and tips an enemy off that he needs to shoot you in the head.

    The swat style III and IV to stop rifle rounds are pretty obvious and heavy — in my opinion, it would be better to put sandbagged firing positions inside your home, since you are unlikely to be going on paramilitary patrols.

    3) Countersurveillance measures can often tip you off in advance if robbers,etc are considering you as a target. They will often scout your property in advance and if you spot this you can be prepared for them.

    If you are moving around outside the home, walk through a “channel” that will force anyone following you into a narrow channel — e.g, a bridge over a river or railroad, a gate in a wall, etc. Have a friend conceal themselves nearby and look for anyone following you. Do this at two or three separate locations to make sure it is not a coincidence.

    Look at your property and identify the places (observation perches) where someone scouting your property and watching for your daily movements would conceal themselves. Then check out those places once a day from another concealed position.

    You might also put out concealed game cameras with night vision/motion sensor that record anyone creeping around at night.

    4) A police scanner can be helpful in monitoring what is going on in your local areas after dark. It can pick up common consumer comms (FRS, CB radio, GMRS, etc) as well as the police and rescue squads. Check Radio Reference.com to see what type of comms is used in your local area — if it is P25, you will need to get the more expensive scanner that can handle that. I like Uniden’s 125 for non-P25 and their 436 for P25. RadioReference has the local frequencies used by your first responders — the 436 will automatically load and scan them if you type in your lat/long or zip code.
    The owners manual is here:
    https://www.manualslib.com/manual/620407/Uniden-Bcd436hp.html

    The National Weather Service will automatically send you a warning of a national or local emergency (tornado,etc) if you have a weather receiver — the Uniden 436 can be set up to announce the warning also. Plus some counties now will send a text msg warning to your cell phone if you register with them.

    5) The generator is noisy and there may be times when you want to keep a low profile (blackout curtains,etc.) A Coleman propane stove can be hooked up to a large propane tank (.e,g kind used with outdoor cooking grills.) Hookup requires a with a special connector hose and will let you cook canned soup or boil water indoors for weeks, maybe months depending on usage.

  12. One thing I noticed during the last ammo shortage was that the .30- 06 did not fall into the military round category and was therefore still available. 308 and .223 were no where to be found. 30-30 and .38 spc., .357 and .44 mag. for lever guns were also available.

  13. I got to get out into the garden, but you’ve asked for suggestions.

    Water is life. A Berkey water filter, or other good quality gravity fed ceramic filter is the most important thing, and it easily added to your preps. Treating it with chlorine is another low cost option. Viruses are usually not a problem unless a particularly deadly one is known to be in the area and a dead body could be in the water. Should that be the case, boiling it will kill the virus, and the filter will make the water taste better. Increasing your water storage would be the number 2 thing to do. 55 gallon drums will store it for years when treated with chlorine. I once used them to store hundreds of gallons for my horses. These were treated with bleach, and stored in an open field and in the hot sun, and remained potable for 2-3 years. And if it does go ‘bad’, then we can boil it or filter it. We’ll need 7 gallons a day to be comfortable long term. We could get by on 2 gallons a day.

    Usually purchasing a filter would be recommended, but in your situation it might be better to spend the money on 55 gallon drums and bleach. You could always boil the drinking water if a virus is the concern or if one has run out of bleach, but you have to have the fuel available to do so. If the plan is to stay put, then perhaps having water to drink is the priority. I would not want to risk a trip to the local water source and haul on a regular basis unless desperate. If you have a pick up and can run down to the water source every 3 weeks with six 55 gallon drums in the back, you’ll be better off. Of course if the power is out forcing one to haul water, we are in big trouble as mayhem would be in the streets.

    Usually when countries collapse, our local water treatment plant may not be run as it is today, and the water quality at the tap is no longer good, then the filter is where I would put the money. And the filter can easily be transported. You’ll have to decide what is the best course of action.

  14. Keyed Deadbolt locks. Great for keeping burglars out, not so great for quick escapes from a smoke filled house. We ended up just leaving the key in the lock for our convenience. We pulled it when on vacation.

  15. Suggestion for your M1 rifle. Add the Good Iron muzzle brake and the recoil will be about the same as shooting an AR-15 rifle. If you have not already attended an Appleseed event you should take your M1 to one near you and enjoy.

  16. Here are some of the security strategies we’ve used alongside a remote location and firearms… These may be helpful to others as well.

    1) A brace bar that fits up under the door knob with the other end resting on the floor (these are sturdy and effective).
    2) A motion sensor that delivers sound (this will alert you when vehicles are approaching). Ours is a Guardline Wireless Driveway Alarm Outdoor Weather Resistant Motion Sensor and Detector.
    3) Motion sensor lights.
    4) Cameras that record activity with good quality imaging (check this to be sure you’re getting good detail — think recognizable people and readable license plates, and that you get images both day and night).
    5) Security doors. The strongest doors your budget will afford.
    6) Multiple security gates.
    7) Signage with stern deterrent language.
    8) In the past we have kept very, very large dogs, and will likely welcome more canine companions to our home again in the near future.

    Remain steady. Be safe. Stay well everyone!

    1. 7) Signage with stern deterrent language.

      I use signs that say, “Danger COVID-19 KEEP OUT”

      I figure that is better deterrent than most others I have seen.

      Carry on in grace

  17. Given that you have asthma aggravated by heat and humidity, I think it’s particularly wise that you’ve obtained a small window a/c unit!! When I lived down South, I kept a very small one ready to go, along with a piece of plywood already pre-cut to fit the bedroom window. When power failures would inevitably occur, I could easily mount the a/c unit into a window by myself and run it using our little generator. It was a life-saver having a cool place to sleep! While many asthmatics find that cold air triggers an asthma attack, for some (and perhaps you might be one?), minor relief can be had by opening the freezer door and intentionally breathing in cold air for a minute or two when a mild attack has just started. Also, if you have allergy-induced asthma, you may find that you have a tendency to react to *many* potential allergens – such as insect bites. Bug spray, mosquito nets, and lots of benadryl are worth their weight in gold. Please don’t forget to tuck some away.

    You didn’t mention if you have a pool – and you may. For those living in the South, this is a relatively easy way to secure additional water storage. A standard above-ground, 24-foot round pool, filled to the height of 48 inches, will provide ~12K gallons of water and keep the grandkids entertained for hours. It will cost about the same as one of those slim-line plastic water tanks (60″ diameter/ 135″ height), hold close to the same volume of water, make it easier for you to refresh the water supply, and be far less boring. 🙂 Also, don’t forget to take advantage of all that rain y’all get in the South. Water from your roof can easily be channeled into rain barrels.

    Thanks for sharing your article. Wishing you and your family all the best.

  18. We do not have a pool, we cannot have any ne per HOA rules.

    I’ve never thought about rain barrels as I believe they can be used for gardens but not potable water. Am I correct?

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