Growing up, I never put too much thought into “the future”– that long distant and magical place always just beyond the horizon. Born and raised in Queens, New York, I was immersed in the leftist mindset of self-entitlement and self-superiority. Never once did I consider how unremarkable and fragile my existence truly was.
I was smart, strong, good in a fight, and clever enough to not get caught when I was up to no good…at least until I wasn’t. Enter a good soul with a badge, who spoke on my behalf, and a kind man with a gavel. The long story short is that I was given the opportunity to redeem myself with public service, provided it was documented and I reported directly to the judge. I don’t, to this day, know what these two good men saw in me, but I am so very thankful. As part of my community service, I was enrolled in The Explorers– a program for teens designed to introduce them to various opportunities in law enforcement. That’s when I began to change.
Years of conformist programming were destroyed in months, as I learned what it was like to be a part of something greater than myself. I took part in community service, learned how to lead a team, and found purpose in an otherwise unsupervised life. I also got my very first lessons in what would be my preparedness journey; it was called first aid.
I can’t tell you enough about how important learning first aid is. To this day (and after years of formal training), I always have a med kit nearby. Items in my kit include:
- Large orange plastic toolbox  to hold everything
- FM4-25.11 U.S. Army first aid manual 
- Tourniquet 
- Adjustable splint 
- Neck Splint 
- “EMT” scissors 
- Suture kits
- Small field surgeons kit with hemostats
- Tweezers 
- Small magnifying glass (doubles as a fire starter)
- Gloves and masks 
- Eyewash 
- Eye patch 
- Various sizes of sterile bandages 
- Compression bandages 
- Abdominal dressings 
- Quick Clot 
- Neosporin 
- Vaseline 
- Bactroban 
- Peroxide 
- Isopropyl Alcohol 
- Calamine lotion 
- Aspirin  and Ibuprofen
- Multiple emergency blankets 
- Stethoscope and Blood Pressure Cuff 
It seems like a lot, but it all fits in the toolkit. I also have a small over-the-counter kit that I keep in my glove compartment, which contains the standard variety of this and that for day-to-day scrapes.
My recommendation for beginners is to build their kit as they become capable of using an item. Let us say for instance that you take a course on basic first aid. If you learn how to apply dressings and can do it repeatedly with a high degree of skill (in relative terms), then add dressings to your kit. It makes no sense to add the weight of items you will not or cannot use. I have completed my EMT 99 training (intermediate), and I plan on starting my EMT P (paramedic) this year, if finances allow. I have done this at great personal expense, as I believe it is important.
Another “habit” I formed while with the Explorers was the learning of wood lore. Camping, while not entirely in the domain of the Explorers (at least from what I remember), was something we did regularly. It was believed that camping was great for team building. Our leaders, Vietnam Veterans as well as Law Enforcement, found willing students for the knowledge they passed. They were ardent outdoorsmen who taught us about the various edible, medicinal, and poisonous plants that grow in the northeast.
In my car, as well as in my G.O.O.D. bag, I carry a deck of regionally-specific cards that show these plants. As I get older, I like to have the color pictures as a backup to my memory. I use these when I take my son hiking; they’re an invaluable teaching tool.
So, as the years passed, I met my a girl, got married, and became a family man, a home owner and a member of my community, which is a community of sheep. However, I am not one of them. No, I’m quite the opposite. I have taken the lessons of my youth and applied them to the rest of my life. When I chose my home, I made certain it was in a predominately rural area where my lifestyle choices wouldn’t be questioned. I keep chickens and pigs, collect rainwater, hunt, fish, and maintain two large gardens.
My primary garden is for food. It is 40’x30′, and while incapable of solely sustaining my family, it is a great addition to my fresh eggs and ham. Add to that the venison, turkey, and fish I take seasonally and you will find that we spend very little on food. I make certain to grow large amounts of “storable” vegetables in my garden, all of which are canned or jarred for the winter (and then some).
Tomatoes are put up using the hot water bath method, as are pickles and relishes. Beans are stored in mason jars , using oxygen absorbers , and my meat overflow is turned into jerky, if it isn’t frozen. I’ve also been experimenting with pressure canning squash with some decent results.
My other garden is medicinal. At 5’x20′, it is easy to manage. Some herbs are double duty, as they are for cooking and possess medicinal properties. In addition to your standard herbs, like rosemary, thyme, and basil, the garden contains plants like: Calendula (marigolds) for skin issues, Colts foot, and Purple Coneflower for colds. As well, many plants with medicinal value are very pretty, and I have planted them for “curb appeal”. I love things that do double duty.
Around the perimeter of my property, I have planted Elderberry bushes (great for fighting colds and making jam), Burdock (for blood detox), and Witch Hazel (which is great for various skin conditions). As well, I have planted Arnica (also a great anti-inflammatory) just outside my property on state land, and it now grows wild.
There are so many different plants you can use for medicinal purposes. I recommend getting several books on the topic, so that you can cross-reference which do what. Some books give great images while others provide great explanations. Do your own research and talk to your doctor about herbs you can use.
I will, however, talk about how to make herbal tinctures. I’m a big fan of tinctures, and I have used them for many years to treat things ranging from the common cold and stomach bugs to rashes, cuts, and recurrent conditions like gout. The following is a simplified way of creating a tincture that I use. Some people will find fault in it because I don’t use exact measurements, but this technique works for me. Feel free to find a way that works for you.
To make a tincture, take a mason jar and clean it thoroughly. It is important to use a jar that will be completely filled by the end mixture, as “dead air” space will cause spoilage.
Select the parts of your herb that are most appropriate and prepare it. (For instance, the part of the Burdock plant I use for treating my family member’s gout is the root.) Flowers and leaves can be chopped; roots can be dried and cut into chunks.
Fill the jar loosely to the top with one part of your chosen herb, say four ounces, then top-off the jar with 100-proof vodka. You should have a mix of about 2 to 1 liquid to herb, so in this example you will need eight ounces of vodka. I use 100-proof vodka because it’s clear and because it’s 50/50 water and alcohol. Some people use grain alcohol, which may very well be what’s available in a post-SHTF scenario. However, since it’s inexpensive, until the “S” actually hits the “F”, I’ll keep using the vodka.
Label your jar with the ingredients, your ratio of ingredients, and the date you manufactured it. Find a cool, dry, and dark place, and let it sit there for a minimum of six weeks. It is not necessary to transfer the mixture into a glass dropper bottle  after a month and a half passes. You can leave it there if you like, but when you need to use it, you must decant it.
When I decant it, I strain the mixture through cheesecloth into a glass funnel . The tincture goes into a dark-colored jar. I’ve had many issues finding these and have had to pull them from various locations over the years. I re-use them but only for tinctures of the same ingredient.
Since learning to do this, I have not had to see a physician for myself. I do bring my son to the doctor for things that are beyond my comfort level, pharmaceutically, but I can take care of nearly everything that comes my way.
The last piece of my puzzle is security. As I’ve said, I live in a community of sheep, and they tend to bleat when a person’s property looks less then what they define as appealing. Rather then suffer with nosy-bodies butting into my choices, I have found that a few strategically-placed thorny bushes can go a long way towards securing windows.
I paid a king’s ransom to have a stone wall laid across the front of my property as a barrier to vehicles coming from the street, and I have dug ”drainage” ditches around the remainder of my property. The water tables are high and this has created a mote. This mote can be secured with sharpened sticks, which are already made and stored under my deck, placed beneath the water level, and it has been hidden from view by ferns that love the environment I’ve created.
I have also, upon reading this advice in a rather good book written by J.W. Rawles (perhaps you’ve heard of him?), zeroed in landmarks on my property from various windows and placed range cards near each. You never know when I may need to aggressively insist that intruders reconsider any lawless behavior during any kind of long-term emergency situation.
Every room in my house has, hidden in plain sight, at least one firearm that all members of my household are familiar with and trained in. (We don’t have much company, so I’m not too worried about prying eyes.) Home invasions are a likely scenario in a spiraling economy, and I would hate to get surprised and not have the ability to respond quickly.
It was hard, but after several years in my area I got to know a few like-minded people through a hunting club. We’ve formed a “team” and have included our families in our activities to the extent that they are interested. One of the team members is a Combat Veteran; as the few of us became a team and learned to work together, he has become our armed combat instructor and coordinator.
Community, a like-minded one, is key to survival on so many levels. I am fortunate to have made these friends and to be working with them with the understanding that we will look after each other and our families. Whether it is car trouble at 3a.m. or a natural disaster, we will band together for our mutual good.
As well, we and our children study various forms of martial arts. The variety was accidental, but the decision to train together in an effort to combine knowledge is intentional. We regularly meet to show techniques and watch various security reels for study (and for response training). We also spend time at the range and have dry fire squad combat drills.
Another form of preparedness we practice is practical. We make sure that everyone can perform basic tasks, like changing a tire or oil, siphoning and filling a gas tank, using a pocket (p-38) can opener, repairing a fishing reel, carrying buckets of water, and building a fire. To our children, this is camping; to us, it’s training.
A note on operational security: Try to blend in. I do not wear any paramilitary clothing. Neither do I have any stickers on my truck that show my affinity for firearms or my political views. I try to avoid groups of people discussing politics or current events at gatherings, simply because I have a strong opinion and a stubborn streak. Remove yourself from any situation where you might inadvertently tip your hand.
With my lifestyle, my medical training, and my on-going tactical instruction, I am becoming so much more than the sheeple plaguing our nation. I am not “better” than them; I am simply more prepared and better equipped. I am a wolf in sheeples clothing. If you’ve read this, I know you are too.
In an anti-gun, nanny state, like New York, this has been extremely difficult, and operational security is perchance the greatest aspect of what we do. I am proud of how far we have come, and I encourage you to be proud of your efforts as well. (Just don’t be too proud… or loud.) With the grace of God, we will weather the storms that may yet come.