Mar 27

Resource page updated

We have updated our resource page. Several new links have been added for your learning pleasure.

Jan 29

OP-SEC, or protecting what is yours.

OP-SEC, operational security, protecting you and yours.  What ever you want to call it, it is a necessary part of our prepping plans.  Having 2 years of food, and 30,000 rounds of ammo for your shotgun and enough medical supplies to run a small hospital for a year won’t do you any good if you can’t keep it safe from people who want to take if from you.  If you are a fan of the show Doomsday Preppers, and watched this season, episode 3 I believe there was a guy who’s prepping plan was to be a marauder, to come and take the stuff that other preppers have and leave them with nothing.  Luckily this person was an utter idiot, and announced this to the world on national television, and happened to have a felony record and was arrested and put in prison shortly after the episode aired.  Unfortunately, you can count of the fact that for every idiot like him there are 10 who aren’t so stupid and plan to do this with out telling us about it.

We all prep for different reasons, and for different scenarios.  Each one has a different set of rules for security.  Total collapse, civil unrest, pandemic, financial collapse, natural disaster, even alien invasion, each one a valid scenario, each one has it’s own rules for how you need to secure your location, and how far you need to go.  I’m not going to go into a great amount of detail for each scenario, but I will go over the basics, and how they could apply to a couple situations.

I am no expert on tactics or on security, I do have professional experience with physical security having worked in the security field for both private and government physical security.  In short, what I am sharing are my opinions and what I have learned from other sources, and I will include those sources at the end of this article.

The basics of security are these, first and foremost Situational Awareness, be aware of what and who are around you.  One of the biggest take aways I got from James Wesley Rawles, is that prepping is a community activity.  Get to know your neighbors, get to know them well, if they are interested, and willing, get them involved in your prepping plans, and group.  If you involve them early and often, then when the SHTF, everyone is on the same page.  Know the area where you are going to be hold up, know the people around you and the likely lines of drift in a mass migration scenario.  Know the land you are on and the land around you, all of the ways in and out of that area both by vehicle, and by foot.  Geography can be a great force multiplier.  If you are building a retreat from the ground up, take into account the view, both into and out of where you want to build.  The first law of camouflage is that if you can see your target, your target can see you.  Always remember that no matter how bad ass you think you and your group are, math is reality, if you are out numbered, numbers usually win eventually.  Keep in mind emergency bugout, how to get you and the barest essentials out of your retreat and mobile if you absolutely must.

Next is tactical operation.  This is my term for basic modis operendi.  How are you going to operate under the circumstances you find your self in.  In a pandemic situation, you are going to operate differently than you are in a complete WROL (without rule of law) situation.  Have an idea of what is your Area of Operation (AO), and within that AO, what are your responsibilities?  in a complete grid down, total societal collapse, you are not only responsible for keeping your group safe but to a certain extent, you must take on the role of law enforcement.  If you come across a group of looters, or worse rapists, what do you do, what is your moral, ethical obligation?  How do you deal with that if and when the time comes?

Next is Operational capability.  This is one of the hardest to quantify, because it necessitates intense realistic self and group examination.  Can you secure your entire location with the people you have.  How well trained are the people in your group?  How much training have you done together, can you work as a small unit in a fight?  Wishing, and self deception are your enemy here.  Thinking that you are an expert in small unit tactics and can work and fight together as well as a SEAL team because you have all read the “Ranger Handbook” from cover to cover 5 times each, but have never gone out in the field to practice what you read is a sure fire way to get you and your group dead with a quickness.  In a lot of cases, particularly with small groups the biggest problem is numbers.  You just don’t have the numbers to put out a two day scouting patrol, and keep the location secure.  You have to be realistic on what you have the numbers, equipment, and skills and know how to be able to effectively accomplish.  Be realistic and honest with your selves when you are self evaluating  Sometimes it is humbling to realize that you may not be the raging bad ass you thought you were, but at least you will acknowledging a short coming before you are confronted by a situation that you will have to deal with, and be able to respond in an appropriate manner.  Not to mention that acknowledging a weakness allows you to do something about it, train harder or differently to strengthen that weakness.

Ok, so let’s bring all that together into a workable OP-SEC plan for a couple different scenarios.

First scenario, infectious agent pandemic.  Let’s say that the h1n1 virus has mutated and gone crazy.  It’s starting to make the Spanish flu look like the sniffles.  The authorities have set up quarantine zones, and have stopped travel between zones, meaning that you are stuck where you are, and must shelter in place.  This greatly simplifies the job of security in some ways in that you not only don’t have to patrol, but it would be much better to not patrol due to the risk of contagion. Safe food and water are going to be the greatest assets a person can have, and will need to protect.  You will need to keep outsiders from getting into your location for several reasons, one you don’t want them to know what and how much you have, normally a virus or bacterial contagion will burn itself out in a matter of weeks or months.   Having ample food and water for that length of time will make you a target if the have not’s find out you have.  Two, you don’t want to risk contagion, so unless you are ready for this kind of thing and have hazmat airlocks and quarantine facilities in your home, this is something you want to avoid.  This brings up involving prepping with your neighbors, it is a double edge sword, if they are of like mind, and join you in prepping, great, that makes you stronger, but if they are not, they know you are, and they have some idea of what you have and could use that to get special favors from the police forces, or government agencies that are in control of your local area.   So, this makes building security, and access the biggest concern.

Scenario two, Total Economic Collapse.  In this scenario, the economy takes a hit that it can’t recover from, hyper inflation hits, a loaf of breat costs $300, if you can find a store that is still open.  The government has run to their shelters, the military is imposing martial law everywhere they can manage it, you bug out to your retreat ahead of the crash, and are quietly sipping tea when the power grids go down, and chaos erupts in the streets of every city and large town in the country, people are streaming out of major metropolitan areas in droves, like a plague of locusts devouring everything in their path.  Now it just got real.  You have your location, and need to make sure that the golden horde don’t destroy everything you have worked hard to build and secure.  You need to set up observation/listening posts, set up patrols to make sure that you are keeping the wrong people out of your AO, and that what laws you decide to impose in your AO are being followed.  You need to make sure you have a viable means of communications, backups for those means of communications, even if it is smoke signals.  Colored smoke grenades can be had online at many different locations for reasonable prices,and can be seen during the day for miles in the right conditions.  You have to decide how forceful will you be with protecting your AO, how do you respond to government forces, looters, refugees, shoot on sight, don’t shoot unless fired upon, you have more than you could possibly use in a life time, take in as many people as you can to bolster your numbers.  These are all considerations you need to take into account when devising your security plans.

Several of my prepping group are either current, or ex-military, so we tend to take a stance that reflects that training, and philosophy.  Also our religious views are very similar, so moral decisions are usually pretty unanimous.  We are very similar in most of thing important things that make up security,and our prepping philosophy.  One thing that I would recommend for groups that are planning on working together, is to get the card game Conflicted.  This is a great way to find out where everyone in your group stands on things, and gives you the opportunity to discuss it, and find out before it’s too late whether or not everyone is a good match for your group. A good deal of my information came from Survival blog by James Wesley Rawles, or his books “How to Survive the End of theh World as We Know It.” and “Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse”.
The website Every Citizen a Soldier for his outstanding array of information and training and informational videos.

As always, keep safe out there, and see you on the other side.

Sep 26

Homesteading and Prepping

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about some of the projects I am working on around the house, and realized how many homesteadish thing I was doing without realizing it.

What is homesteading?  For my working definition, homesteading is anything you can do to make yourself and your household more self sufficient.  For example, my wife found a recipe online for making your own laundry detergent, and dishwasher tablets.  We have been making our own detergent for the past six months, and it works better than any store bought detergent I have ever used, we use less detergent, and it smells great, so we don’t need to use fabric softener, or dryer sheets any more, thus saving a little money.  also the ingredients to make the detergent cost about $35, and that gets enough to make 6 batches of laundry soap that last about 2 months each batch since you only have to use a tablespoon of the mix.

We also raise rabbits for meat, it costs us about $40 a month to care for our rabbits food and water, and various things that they need, and we breed them.  We can get about 8 rabbits per litter,  We usually get 2 litters per month, and on average that gives us 16 rabbits for meat ever 12 weeks.  that is like buying 16 roasting chickens for $40, or $2.50 each.  if we breed more aggressively, we can move that up to 32 every 6 weeks or about 8 per week if we are consistent with our breeding. This lowers our grocery bill, in fact we rarely buy chicken any more since chicken and rabbit are very similar in taste and consistency.

We also have a garden box where we have grown a significant amount of vegetables including corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelons, and beans.  The soil mix we use has allowed us grow enough to can some of what we have grown, and make pickles from the cucumbers, which grew so numerous and so large we couldn’t eat them fast enough.

As it turns out rabbit poop is the best fertilizer ever, and we have enhanced our garden box greatly using rabbit fertilizer.  We have bagged it up and given it to several of our friends who also have home gardens, and I have been researching that there is actually a market for selling it to other people for fertilizer or compost components.

Another project that I am starting to build is what is called a tractor pen for the rabbits, it is a larger pen with no bottom that gives them space to move around, and you drag it around your yard so the rabbits eat the grass and weeds from the yard which is very healthy for the rabbits, and they poop as they eat, fertilizing the yard and mow it at the same time.

My wife is starting a fodder system which is sprouting wheat grass, and supplementing the rabbits food with the wheat, thus lowering our feed cost, and again it is of nutritional value to the rabbits, giving us larger healthier rabbits which  means more meat from the rabbits.

You can see how several small things can help out with the budget.  This allows us to take some of that money that we save and using it for some of the prepping items that must be purchased.  These are just a few small things that we have done that have saved us a lot of money.  It is always better to have alternatives for all of your preps.  Rain catchment for water, water filtration, alternate food sources, alternative weapon systems such as bows or crossbows.  Always have a back up when you can, because one is none, and two is one.

 

 

Aug 04

The Government today.

Normally I try to stay away from political postings, as my political opinion is mine, and I would rather not turn this site away from it’s intended purpose which is to teach people how to be prepared for bad situations, regardless of its cause. But reading the article I am about to link really frightened me to the point where if it is even half true, we are in deep trouble as a nation, and we all need to wake up and do what we can within our means and abilities to take our country back from the regime currently in power.

 

Our government is currently engaged in activities that go well beyond treason, and sedition. There has been talk of impeachment for the president on whatever grounds, writing too many executive orders, whatever. If this article is accurate, and I haven’t had the chance to fully vet it, then what our government as a whole is involved in makes Watergate look like stealing bubblegum from a drugstore. If this article is true, then the “revolution” that everyone has been talking about needing to happen, is already going on behind our backs, and in front of our faces. Read the article for yourself and let me know your thoughts. Personally I’m frightened, and I’m getting ready.

 

And this was part of the article, but I felt it needed to be reposted in as many different places as possible.

 

 

 

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20500

 

Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution

 

Dear Mr. President:

 

You are acutely aware that the history of liberty is a history of civil disobedience to unjust laws or practices. As Edmund Burke sermonized, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

 

Civil disobedience is not the first, but the last option. Henry David Thoreau wrote with profound restraint in Civil Disobedience: “If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.”

 

Thoreau’s moral philosophy found expression during the Nuremburg trials in which “following orders” was rejected as a defense. Indeed, military law requires disobedience to clearly illegal orders.

A dark chapter in America’s World War II history would not have been written if the then United States Attorney General had resigned rather than participate in racist concentration camps imprisoning 120,000 Japanese American citizens and resident aliens.

Civil disobedience to the Fugitive Slave Act and Jim Crow laws provoked the end of slavery and the modern civil rights revolution.

 

We submit that Edward J. Snowden’s disclosures of dragnet surveillance of Americans under § 215 of the Patriot Act, § 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments, or otherwise were sanctioned by Thoreau’s time-honored moral philosophy and justifications for civil disobedience. Since 2005, Mr. Snowden had been employed by the intelligence community. He found himself complicit in secret, indiscriminate spying on millions of innocent citizens contrary to the spirit if not the letter of the First and Fourth Amendments and the transparency indispensable to self-government. Members of Congress entrusted with oversight remained silent or Delphic. Mr. Snowden confronted a choice between civic duty and passivity. He may have recalled the injunction of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.” Mr. Snowden chose duty. Your administration vindictively responded with a criminal complaint alleging violations of the Espionage Act.

 

From the commencement of your administration, your secrecy of the National Security Agency’s Orwellian surveillance programs had frustrated a national conversation over their legality, necessity, or morality. That secrecy (combined with congressional nonfeasance) provoked Edward’s disclosures, which sparked a national conversation which you have belatedly and cynically embraced. Legislation has been introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate to curtail or terminate the NSA’s programs, and the American people are being educated to the public policy choices at hand. A commanding majority now voice concerns over the dragnet surveillance of Americans that Edward exposed and you concealed. It seems mystifying to us that you are prosecuting Edward for accomplishing what you have said urgently needed to be done!

 

The right to be left alone from government snooping–the most cherished right among civilized people—is the cornerstone of liberty. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson served as Chief Prosecutor at Nuremburg. He came to learn of the dynamics of the Third Reich that crushed a free society, and which have lessons for the United States today.

 

Writing in Brinegar v. United States, Justice Jackson elaborated:

The Fourth Amendment states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

These, I protest, are not mere second-class rights but belong in the catalog of indispensable freedoms. Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart. Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government. And one need only briefly to have dwelt and worked among a people possessed of many admirable qualities but deprived of these rights to know that the human personality deteriorates and dignity and self-reliance disappear where homes, persons and possessions are subject at any hour to unheralded search and seizure by the police.

We thus find your administration’s zeal to punish Mr. Snowden’s discharge of civic duty to protect democratic processes and to safeguard liberty to be unconscionable and indefensible.

We are also appalled at your administration’s scorn for due process, the rule of law, fairness, and the presumption of innocence as regards Edward.

 

On June 27, 2013, Mr. Fein wrote a letter to the Attorney General stating that Edward’s father was substantially convinced that he would return to the United States to confront the charges that have been lodged against him if three cornerstones of due process were guaranteed. The letter was not an ultimatum, but an invitation to discuss fair trial imperatives. The Attorney General has sneered at the overture with studied silence.

 

We thus suspect your administration wishes to avoid a trial because of constitutional doubts about application of the Espionage Act in these circumstances, and obligations to disclose to the public potentially embarrassing classified information under the Classified Information Procedures Act.

Your decision to force down a civilian airliner carrying Bolivian President Eva Morales in hopes of kidnapping Edward also does not inspire confidence that you are committed to providing him a fair trial. Neither does your refusal to remind the American people and prominent Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate like House Speaker John Boehner, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann,and Senator Dianne Feinstein that Edward enjoys a presumption of innocence. He should not be convicted before trial. Yet Speaker Boehner has denounced Edward as a “traitor.”

 

Ms. Pelosi has pontificated that Edward “did violate the law in terms of releasing those documents.” Ms. Bachmann has pronounced that, “This was not the act of a patriot; this was an act of a traitor.” And Ms. Feinstein has decreed that Edward was guilty of “treason,” which is defined in Article III of the Constitution as “levying war” against the United States, “or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

 

You have let those quadruple affronts to due process pass unrebuked, while you have disparaged Edward as a “hacker” to cast aspersion on his motivations and talents. Have you forgotten the Supreme Court’s gospel in Berger v. United States that the interests of the government “in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done?”

 

We also find reprehensible your administration’s Espionage Act prosecution of Edward for disclosures indistinguishable from those which routinely find their way into the public domain via your high level appointees for partisan political advantage. Classified details of your predator drone protocols, for instance, were shared with the New York Times with impunity to bolster your national security credentials. Justice Jackson observed in Railway Express Agency, Inc. v. New York: “The framers of the Constitution knew, and we should not forget today, that there is no more effective practical guaranty against arbitrary and unreasonable government than to require that the principles of law which officials would impose upon a minority must be imposed generally.”

 

In light of the circumstances amplified above, we urge you to order the Attorney General to move to dismiss the outstanding criminal complaint against Edward, and to support legislation to remedy the NSA surveillance abuses he revealed. Such presidential directives would mark your finest constitutional and moral hour.

 

Sincerely,

Bruce Fein

Counsel for Lon Snowden

Lon Snowden

Source

 

This was an open letter written to President Obama which to my knowledge has not gotten even a peep of national coverage. One would think that the media would be stepping on each other to get this to press before the others, but all I hear is silence. With some luck our various small outlets for information will get the message out.

 

Here is the link to the article that prompted this post, as always be prepared, be ready, and be safe.

http://www.eutimes.net/2013/08/switzerland-warning-against-obama-regime-stuns-russia/July 26, 2013

Jul 03

Train like your life depends on it, it just might.

Training, what does this mean? A lot of different things. Training is doing somehting in a consistent manner to either imporve skill, or physical condition. Training needs to be a constant thing. Either physical training skills training, or what I call tactical training. Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect. When you are practicing something, make sure you are practicing it the right way. This goes across the board, when you are working out, make sure you are doing the exercise the right way to make the most of the exercise. If you are building something you obviously want to do ti the right way, so you don’t waste the materials and your time. With any kind of martial training either hand to hand fighting or weapons training if you don’t practice it correctly every time, you will do it wrong under pressure. Now there is no 100% right way to do anything, but there is certainly 100% wrong way to do things, and if you develop wrong habits, you will do that in a time is life situation. When training, always do what works 95% of the time. You will never be able to do something 100% of the time. If you could you would be an android. To my knowledge, there aren’t any of them so work for the 95%.

 

Training philosophy. They say amateurs train to succeed professional train to fail. For our use this means that we continue to train with higher and higher standards until our skills fail us, and then train until we succeed with those higher standards. This is a practice that I have only recentlyl adopted, because it makes a lot of sense. When it comes to a time is life or WROL (without rule of law) situation, we can’t settle for being “ok” at the things we do, we have to be the best that we possibly can.

 

So, how do we apply this. Being a couch potato who gets winded going from the couch to the fridge is not going to serve us if the world goes sideways. We all must do our best to be in the best physical condition we can. Even if we have medical issues, we can all do some physical training to be in the best condition we are capible of being in. Walk to the convenience store instead of driving, get a bike, ride once a day, even if it is around the block. If you are in better shape you have a better chance of surviving when there isn’t a 7-11 down the street to go get yourself something to eat. The better your physical condition, the more efficient use of resources, it processes food better, energy levels are on average higher, if you are in better shape you don’t get sick as often, you fight infection better. All in all there is no down side to being in good shape other than missing the odd episode of Doctor Who now and then.

 

Non-tactical skills, the homesteading skills. If there is a long term breakdown of society, there will be no grocery stores, no pharmacy, no doctors unless you are lucky enough to have one in your prepping group. There is a list of skills a mile long that would be nice to know if the SHTF, but no one can know it all, or be proficient at it all more importantly. When you can go to your local store to pick up some asprin when you have a headache, having a skill set a mile wide and an inch deep, aka jack of all trades, master of none, is all fine and good. When that all goes away, you better be good at what you do, and practicing is the only way to do that. Start a victory garden today, grow herbs both for cooking and for medicine. Learn to build a well pump system, and run your own pipes, rebuild a motor, get good at as much as you can, practice, practice, practice. Running with a group of like minded individuals is great, as long as you have a wide variety of skills to draw upon. Sit down and think about what it takes to run your house for a day, food, cleaning supplies, paper products, heat for cooking, power for the refrigerator, make a list of what you would need to replace all those things, and think of the skills that it would require to get that done. Talk to your prepping group, see who knows what, and who is willing to learn what skills, and get going with it.

 

Tactical skills. These are skills that are security or combat related. Shooting, small unit tactics, evade and escape, martial arts of any kind. While other skills are just as important, tactical skills have a much higher likelyhood of getting you hurt or killed if you don’t know what you are doing, or don’t practice it correctly. Gen. George S. Patton said of training. “A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood.” Train, practice and train some more. If you have a group, train together as much as possible. Learn how each other thinks, learn to work together. A friend of mine from www.everycitizenasoldier.org has a wonderful YouTube channel with excellent training advice in video format that can be found at…

http://www.youtube.com/user/excurrahee?feature=watch

Mar 25

Go Bag basics.

What is a Go Bag?  A go bag is a bag or pack that contains what you will need to get out of dodge (G.O.O.D).  Generally speaking, you will need between 3-5 days supplies to get from where you are to where you are going. So, we are going to discuss the difference between necessities, and want for the items in this bag.   Get a decent bag or backpack that you can comfortably carry with 30-50 pounds of gear packed into it.  Personally I prefer a small 3 day hiking backpack, it is compact, designed for carrying large loads in a balanced way, and many 3 day backpacks have built in hydration packs, or the ability to add one, as well as many other features that will save a lot of pain later on.  My friends in the military have a saying that ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain.  If you have ever done any backpacking you have a good idea of how small items in your bag can add up to a lot of weight, quickly. In my opinion, it is better to keep the luxury items to a minimum.

I won’t be going into every little item that would be nice to have in your go bag here, but I will go over the basic must have items.  From there it is up to you to decide what items you are willing to carry, remember how quickly weight can accumulate.  First and foremost of anything you will want in your kit is a good knife.  Short of a firearm, your knife is where in my opinion you should spend the most money.  Buy a good brand name don’t go for flash, go for function.  Gerber Kershaw and Benchmade are I believe brands that are good quality, and have a wide variety styles to fit everyone’s needs.  A multi-tool knife is a great way to go if you are only going to be able to afford one knife.

Next, you will need some way to carry water.  Plastic sports bottles are a good way to go for portable water, some backpacks even come with water bottles which clip to the outside of the backpack or have built in hydration packs.  You should have at least two ways to make fire, a Bic lighter, and matches, each in separate locations in your gear, for instance on in the main pocket of your pack, and one in an outside pocket, and both in watertight containers, like zip-close bags.

A small but complete first aid kit, this is an area where you can spend a lot of money on a kit, and get everything you will need to do an emergency appendectomy.  If you are not a doctor, or medic, don’t waste your money buying things you don’t know how to use. Get a first aid kit which has a few Band-Aids, several different sized gauze pads, medical tape, anti-biotic ointment, moleskin for blisters, a large pressure bandage, splinter kit including tweezers, and something to make a sling out of.  Remember the purpose of everything you are carrying is to get you from where you are to where you are going, not be Grizzly Adams and live in the wilderness.  I want to touch on foot care quickly here.  Many people have never heard of moleskin, it is possibly one of the most important items to have in your med kit.  Along with some foot powder.  If your feet have blisters, and you are soaking your socks in blood, you are at a very high risk for infection, which could kill you, or at the very least render you immobile until your foot heals.  Take care of your feet.

Several ways to make light, multiple flashlights with battery replacements again water tight packages.  If your knife is not a multi-tool then a pair of pliers is a wonderful thing to have.  You will want to have 2-3 changes of weather appropriate clothing, 3-4 pairs of socks and under garments.  This does mean that you will need to do some minor maintance to your bag as weather changes in your area, but being sure that your bag is ready is worth the small amount of time you will spend checking it and making sure it is ready to go.  A small sewing kit to repair your clothing as living in the wild can be hard on clothing.

Your weapon system of choice.  This is where the pounds can really add up.  For example, a typical handgun weighs in around 3 lbs.  If that is a semi-automatic handgun, then you will want in my opinion, at least 4 total magazines which are close to a pound a piece.  So just for a handgun and loaded magazines you have added 7 lbs. to your pack.  Add a rifle, such as an AR-15 and you’re really adding the weight, the rifle alone with no optics, or accessories, averages around 7.5 lbs. and 30 round magazines weigh in at a little over a pound each. My personal kit contains 4 loaded pistol and 7 loaded rifle magazines. Once I add my weapon systems to the load, I nearly double the weight of my pack.

A small cooking pot and by small I mean less than a quart size pot. A great way to get this is an old fashion scouting mess kit, they usually have a frying pan, small pot, a plate/bowl, drinking cup and eating utensils, as well as they are usually only a couple dollars at camping stores, or better yet used at your local thrift store or second hand store.   Add a couple large 55 gallon trash can liners, and you have quite a kit.

Those are the things that will be indispensable.  Here are a few “luxury” items that will make things more livable, and don’t add a lot of weight.  A decent multi-band radio, capable of shortwave, AM, FM, UHF, and NOAA weather is a great thing to have, many of them can be had fairly inexpensively, and many also include a built-in hand crank generator to charge the batteries in the radio.  “Space blankets” are very cheap, and can truly make the difference in cold weather, and in a pinch they can be used for signaling.  A folding shovel is a great thing to have, but a decent one that won’t break the first time you try to use it tend to be heavy.  A folding camp saw and or machete type chopper, sometimes firewood will need to be cut, so it makes life easier.  A good survival book, I highly recommend the SAS survival manual, they publish it in a compact backpack size, and the information it contains is amazing.  I don’t recommend many electronic devices, while they can make life easier, the question of power comes into play, and you must either pack batteries, or have some way to recharge the existing batteries.  Remember ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain.  You may end up having to carry your bag on foot for the duration, so keep that in mind when adding non-essentials.  If you are not careful in your selection of gear, your bag can get to be very heavy, 80-90 lbs.  If you are in excellent physical condition, and are used to carrying this kind of load, meaning you do it on a regular basis, then you can carry more, if you are not used to it, a 80 pound pack will wear you out, and possibly injure you to the point where you never reach your destination.

 

 

Mar 05

Resource page added.

I just added a resource page with several links to helpful information, this is very Limited at the moment, but will be growing and evolving as we develop new resources.  We will not link to pages that we don’t have 100% confidence in and believe in the products or advice given on those pages.

Mar 05

Never underestimate or overestimate good, cold steel

It’s unfortunate that Hollywood has seriously misaligned people’s perspective on blades, their use, what’s effective and how they can be employed effectively, and what’s appropriate for any given situation. While the myths about blades, how they’re made and so on can be clarified, the question of what’s right for any given situation depends on the individual.

This episode will discuss just what is a knife in principal, the two primary types of knife steel to use, modern materials for non-metallic blades and basic sharpening skills.

People are as varied as the different styles of knives available, and preferences and tastes play a rather large factor.

I’m, perhaps, the biggest blade snob I know of. I have made and used different forms of cutlery for nigh on twenty years out of hand forged high carbon steel, stock removal modern alloys, plastics and even wood, and my preferences are normally based on what I can make in my shop. If I can’t make it, I don’t want it. That, however, isn’t the case for most preppers. The average person setting up their back-up supplies has neither forge, nor knowledge on how to make the perfect knife for themselves.

That’s okay, because there are enough makers of decent quality cutlery to fill in that gap for one of the oldest tools known to man. The knife has been around for untold millennia. From the first chunks of flaked rock to today’s modern alloy or even plastic blades, the concept of the knife has remained the same. It’s a cutting tool, plain and simple.

But, like so many other tools, it may be properly used, or it may be misused.

The semantics of knife use aren’t why we’re here today, though. We’re here to take a practical approach to a good blade for a survival situation, getting over prejudices, and being informed. Information is as vital a tool in prepping for potential disaster as food stores or a first aid kit. So, if I could put away my prejudices and approach this exercise in practicality with an open mind, so can you.

Let’s start with the basic definition of what a knife is.

Put simply, a knife is a single edged cutting implement. Size depends on the job it’s supposed to do. Obviously a paring knife for peeling fruits and vegetables would be inappropriate for dismantling your Thanksgiving Day turkey. That’s not what it was designed for. Likewise a fillet knife wouldn’t be the proper blade for hacking your way through undergrowth in dense woodlands.

Form follows function, so we’re going to have to look at what a well prepared prepper should look for.

The basis for selecting a good knife for your personal supplies should first take into account where you are. While a ready prepper in Arizona has almost no limitations in choosing the type of steel for their blade, where the air and terrain are fairly arid and dry, he or she may be able to select a high carbon steel blade as corrosion resistance won’t be as big a factor as someone who lives in Florida, where heat, humidity and possible ocean air can have a detrimental effect on steel and would do better in selecting one of the higher grade stainless steels for their knife.

Each of these different steels, high carbon and stainless, have their pros and cons.

Stainless steel, obviously, is corrosion resistant. That’s a key phrase, by the way. Corrosion resistant. Believe it or not, stainless steel can and will rust. That is the nature of steel and an expected result when exposed to oxygen and water, hence rust being called oxidation. It is the chemical reaction when a destructive element such as oxygen is exposed to virtually every single element known to man. Stainless steel is just a little more resistant to this reaction. That means that this steel is a solid choice for places where the blade is likely to be exposed to moisture, water, humidity and other liquid agents that promote oxidation and/or corrosion.

There are two primary cons to stainless steel blades, however, that should be taken into account.

The first is that stainless steel does not maintain a good working edge for very long. This is due to the crystalline structure of the alloy, normally iron and a combination of tungsten, vanadium, chromium and nickel with just a small amount of carbon. It’s a tradeoff: Corrosion resistant, lack of decent edge keeping capability requiring sharpening more often. Fortunately this can be countered by learning how to dress an edge, which only takes about 30 minutes to learn properly, and having a reliable sharpening method. I doubt most people will have access to the materials and equipment I do, but in a pinch, a semi decent butcher’s wand or sharpening rod will do.

A little note: While grabbing a rock to sharpen a blade looks great in a movie and is all sorts of dramatic-cool, don’t. Seriously. The rock will often destroy the angle that the edge is set at, gouge the steel allowing more places for rust to occur, and diminish cutting efficiency. There will be more on sharpening later, though.

The second drawback of stainless steel is that it may chip or break if used improperly or struck suddenly. Again, this is a trade off from having a corrosion resistant alloy. The blade needs to be hard to maintain a cutting edge, but at the same time, hard equals brittle. I have seen this happen far too often when a knife is dropped, strikes something such as a rock, or used to pry things open.

A knife isn’t a pry bar…it’s a knife. This falls under the misuse category.

Now on to carbon steel.

While high carbon steel is my preferred blade steel, it’s not for everyone. This type of steel is comprised of two elements and those are iron and carbon, though the varying levels of carbon will drastically affect the performance of a blade. I’ve found that for nearly every application, be it tool or weapon, I like a ‘high’ to ‘ultra-high’ carbon content, or .85% to 1.2% total carbon in the blade steel. Carbon steel is fairly tough, maintains a good working edge longer, isn’t as prone to chipping and can be formed into a thinner blade. However, carbon steel requires greater care in its maintenance. It rusts quickly when exposed to all forms of moisture, whether that be water, salt water, sweat, blood, humidity and so on. The difficulty with carbon steel is that in a disaster situation, the owner of a blade made from that particular type of steel might not have the time or luxury of applying the recommended care. And make no mistake, rust can rapidly destroy a good carbon steel blade within a few days under the right conditions. I’ve actually witnessed this.

Another drawback to carbon steel is that the blade will eventually develop a magnetic charge. This is one of the properties of carbon steel, just as rust is, and essentially scrambles the crystalline structure of the steel, causing poor edge keeping ability, eventual softening of the blade and drastically reducing its effectiveness. This can be countered by plunging the blade into the ground for no less than 3-4 days in a protected place, as free of moisture as possible such as under a house. The question is, can you forego this vital tool for the time that de-magnetizing is required?

Apart from our two primary steel types there are a number of other materials available, though at this point I’m going to go with the two biggest sellers, which means the most prolific on the commercial market, and those are polycarbonate plastic blades, and ceramic.

You’ve all see the commercials for the new ceramic knives for kitchen use, right? They do a beauty job cutting meat and tomatoes with good, clean, precise slices! And that’s all they’re good for. Again, what works in a kitchen isn’t at all what happens in the real world when disaster hits. Yes, the edge on these blades is great, and you can even cut yourself and not know it because they are that sharp. Trust me on this one. However, ceramic blades really don’t have the ability to withstand any real-world form of abuse. I got two and dropped one by accident and still have shards appearing every so often, normally while I’m barefoot and heading to the coffee pot in the morning. The second one was knocked off my counter by a damn cat and went the way of the first and I wasn’t about to shell out another $100.00 for a replacement and went back to my cheap steel knives for my tomatoes and cucumbers. Then again, I don’t like a knife, no matter what it’s made of, if I can’t sharpen it myself.

I have played and even made a number of polycarbonate blades for different applications, from self-defense to one for a scuba diver. Polycarbonates are tough materials with an average strength of 4X’s stronger than aluminum and 40+X’s stronger than glass. They are weather and chemical resistant and often tough enough to hammer through plywood. The primary drawback here is that they really don’t keep all that decent an edge. Yes, they can be sharpened, but not very well. They function well for punching and making holes, in what I won’t say, and that tends to be it. A polycarbonate blade is extremely durable in different climates, though they do tend to become brittle in extreme cold and being plastic, they will melt if subjected to high heat. It’s a material that, like ceramic, is fairly limited in its application.

As stated earlier, a knife is a cutting tool. It performs this function by employing two different tool purposes at the same time. The first, obviously is the wedge, a tool meant to separate material and that would be the edge of the knife. The second tool that a knife incorporates is the lever, getting more force to the point that is being cut than the user would normally be able to exert by focusing the pressure on a much small surface area, again the edge. With a knife, one goes from applying just a few dozen pounds per square inch to a few thousand PSI. That is how and why a knife is effective.

My preferred method for a good field sharpening is a sanding sponge and a few sheets of wet/dry sandpaper starting with a 220 grit and progressing to a 600. A smooth edge increases cutting effectiveness dramatically. A little bit of 3 in 1 oil, motor oil (used or unused) will help quite a bit in the endeavor. Starting at the back of the edge towards the guard with the 220 grit, travel with the run of the blade, or along the edge towards the tip. The sponge actually conforms to the bevel of the edge and will give a good, smooth grind. I like using the 220 grit to remove little nicks and inclusions on the edge. Following the same method, alternating between one side and the other, move up until you’re on the 600 grit. Don’t forget the oil. Normally with 10-30 minutes you can get an edge that’s extremely keen and free of nicks. There may, however be a burr where the material that has been removed leaves a small sliver of steel that is incredibly thin and hasn’t separated from the rest of the knife. Simply running the edge lightly along a bit of wood will remove this burr without the risk of you getting metal splinters. They aren’t dangerous, but there’s nothing so blasted irritating as a metal splinter.

Lastly, there is a huge debate between people about the pros and cons of straight edges versus serrated. While I have my preferred edge, you need to consider how this blade is going to be employed to make your own decision on what’s best for you. Straight edges give nice, clean cuts and slices. A serrated blade acts more like a saw and tends to cut and tear. The only thing I’m going to say in regards to this one is remember, even serrated blades get dull and will eventually have to be sharpened, and I for one, hate sharpening serrations.

In our next article we’ll discuss the different types of knives, the pros and cons for each. Don’t forget to contact us if you have any questions. We’re here to make sure that you don’t become ‘That guy’.

 

L.J.K.

Feb 17

Prepping: The Basics

What is prepping about?  Why do we prep? Won’t the government help us if things go badly?  Prepping is about survival.  There is nothing you can buy, build, or acquire that will guarantee that you will survive in a bad situation. We prep to make sure that we increase ours and our family’s chances of survival to the highest levels we can.  In a lot of cases, the government will be unable, or unwilling to render aid when we need it the most.  It is up to us to make sure that our families are safe and secure.

We know what prepping is, it is accumulating goods and knowledge to help us survive in a bad situation.  There are thousands of reasons to prep, natural disasters, economic collapse, civil collapse, and war just to name a few.  What we prep and how we prep depend greatly on what we are prepping for.  Regardless of why we are prepping, there are three basic things that we will need.  That is what we are going to focus on.  Food, both ready to eat and renewable sources.   Medical supplies such as any medications you require and supplies to treat sickness and injury.  Lastly we need a means of protecting ourselves and our families.

If you are independently wealthy then you can very quickly prepare yourself and your family for the worse.  For us working slobs, we need to take a more reasonable approach to getting what we need and want.  This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide, but rather a starting point.  Nobody knows everything about prepping, but we are compiling a list of resources to make your journey to becoming a well-informed prepper a little easier.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  If you look at a lot of the big prepping bloggers, it is very easy to get discouraged thinking “There is so much I need, it’s an impossible task.” My advice to everyone starting out at anything is to “do what you can when you can.”  We use a tiered system for our prepping plan that keeps us from having an armory that would make the army jealous and only have one or two cans of out of date pork n’ bean for food and a box of bandaids for a first aid kit.  Start with enough supplies of bullets, beans, and bandaids to last for 3 days.  Then set your next goal, and so on and so forth, always trying to keep each category in balance with the others.

First, when you buy your groceries, buy an extra can of food and put it away in a place that is cool and dry, or if you live in a small apartment, then in your “go bag”.  A Go Bag is a bag that contains what you would need to survive in an emergency situation until you get to your retreat location.  Usually it should contain enough food, first aid supplies, shelter, clothing, water and various other necessities for you to survive for 2-3 days out in the wild with no other means of supply.    If you do this every time you go to the grocery store, you will find that you have an amazing amount of extra food very quickly.  While cans are not the best food in terms of portability, a few cans get heavy to carry very quickly, they are cheap and have a very long shelf life.

Next is first aid supplies.  You can pick up a decent home first aid kit with everything you need to treat minor injuries and basic illness for around $20-40 dollars.  I highly recommend also picking up a good book on first aid if you have no formal training.  Treating a wound or illness incorrectly can be worse than not treating it at all.  If you have some form of medical training, then buy according to your skills and abilities.  Your basic medical stash should include bandages, gauze, anti-biotic ointment, bandage wraps, pain killers of your choice such as Tylenol, aspirin, BC Powder, Motrin, a wide variety is good since different pain medication works for different pain.  A good multi-vitamin, and cold remedies should be included as well as any anti-histamine such as Benadryl, an anti-itch like Calamine Lotion, something to make a splint out of, and a sling.  Always remember that if you don’t know how to use a piece of gear, don’t bother buying it, until you learn.  Having a difibulator can kill just as easily as help in the wrong hands.  Exhaustion makes you more susceptible to illness, some Emergen-C and mega-B vitamins are excellent things to have in your medical kit.  Remember also that most medications and supplements have a limited shelf life, right around a year in a lot of cases, but read the expiration date on any medication or vitamin supplement, rotate your stock as needed.

Lastly, and I saved this for the end on purpose, because it can be the biggest expense in your prepping, and a poor choice here can be disastrous.  A weapon system of some sort is an absolute necessity to protect yourself, your family, and your preps.  You have put your time and hard earned money into the supplies you have gathered, you are relying on them to survive, letting someone take them because you are unable to defend them is unthinkable.  I would guess about 95% of you out there when someone says weapon, you think gun.  You and me both.  I have grown up hunting, camping and hiking, so guns are a natural part of my life at this point.  Guns are a very effective means to defend yourself and your property.  Just don’t overlook other things that can be just as effective as a gun in the right circumstances.  A baseball bat is an amazing weapon.  It is between 3-4 feet of hardwood weighing only a few pounds, most people can swing one with devastating effect.  If you doubt that, hang a coconut from a tree branch, and give a good bash with a baseball bat.  Structurally, a coconut has the same strength and weaknesses of the human skull.   Impact weapons such as this are great because they are extremely accurate, and they don’t use ammo, not to mention being silent, so as not to attract unwanted attention.  When people ask me what kind of weapon they should get, I usually answer that with a question.  What kind of weapon do you know how to use?  If you know how to use a gun, buy a gun, if you know how to use a staff, get a staff.  I listen to friends of my kids talking about the zombie apocalypse, and how they would just get a sword and go at it.  All fine and good if your opponents are slow moving Romero type zombies, but in the real world using a weapon you have no experience with can be more deadly, to you, than not having a weapon at all.  That goes for guns as well.  You can spend tens of thousands of dollars on the best of the best, but if you don’t know how to use it, it is of no more use than a $10 pellet gun, in fact probably less.  For most people basic skills with a gun are much easier to achieve than with most hand to hand weapons.

There are a lot of considerations that go into selecting a weapon system which I will go into more detail in future articles, but for now we are going to stick to the basics.  First, knowledge of operation of said weapon system, or available training.  Second, cost and availability.  Third, practical application.

Knowledge is the hardest part to overcome.  Especially if you decide to go with a hand to hand weapon.   Unless you are exceptionally talented, and can make it up as you go along effectively then training is a must.  If you go with a firearm, then going to the range on a regular or at least semi-regular basis is a must.  Accuracy with a gun when you have limited amounts of ammo can mean the difference between life and death.  Whatever weapon system you choose, practice practice practice, and remember, practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.  If you don’t train to do it right, when it comes down to the real deal, you won’t do it right then either.  Cost and availability, if you are on a tight budget, a firearm may be out of reach.  On average a decent reliable handgun can run between $600 – $1200, that is not to say you can’t get one for less, if you buy used, or if you get a great deal from a friend.  Ammunition is another concern if you are going with firearms.  With the current talk of bans and gun control legislation, prices on everything firearm related is unnaturally inflated.  Less than a year ago 1000 rounds of .223 Winchester rifle ammunition could be had for around $300, currently if you can find it in boxes larger than 20, it is closer to $1 per round.  You can still go out and buy an ASP collapsible baton for around $50 depending on the model.    Third, is the weapon system you choose effective in your situation?  If you live in a major city, having a large collection of firearms may not be legal.  If you have several people living with you in a house, a shotgun may not be the best choice as it is very difficult to control where all 9 “00 buckshot” pellets go, and the last thing you want is to unintentionally injure someone who you are supposed to be protecting.   If you are not very physically fit a hand to hand weapon is not a very good choice, as on average, it takes a lot of energy and physicality to effectively use a staff, or sword, or even knife in a fight, so a hand to hand weapon many not be a good choice as your primary weapon system.

Keep in mind that this is just the very basics, and each section of this article could have easily been an article of its own, and will be in the near future. Hopefully this will get you thinking and planning and prepping.  If you have any questions, please comment here.

 

 

Feb 17

Start Your Gardens

Now’s the time to start thinking of planting a garden for this year.  In the southern areas you might be ready to plant straight outdoors or here in the Mid Atlantic I’m getting ready to plant my seeds indoors to be ready to transplant outside after the last frost.  There are various websites out there to help you find your last frost date.  Since I tend to be forgetful I use the Garden Planner software offered by www.growveg.com.  This software also gave me the last frost date for my area and used it to time my vegetables.  It gives me a nice print out of when I should be sowing indoors and when to transplant out into the regular garden.  I also decided to go with the Square Foot Garden (SFG) method since we do not own a large amount of land http://www.squarefootgardening.com/.  We built a 8’ by 4’ garden bed last year and I hope to add a smaller 2’ by 4’ bed for herbs this year. I did buy some seedlings from the store last year as I didn’t get my own seeds started soon enough and they did wonderful in the soil mix SFG recommends.  Think about what vegetables you regularly eat and start looking up the planting dates.  Mother Earth News also has a nice What to Plant Now site that breaks down by region and month on what you might plant http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/What-To-Plant-Now.aspx#axzz2LCdGwimU.  For those of you that don’t have any outdoor space it is possible to grow vegetables indoors in containers.  I had zero experience with gardening prior to last year and between the SFG book and researching online we had a fairly successful first year.  I hope this year is better by my planning now.  The better I do with our garden the less I have to buy from a store with unknown chemicals used in the growing.  Also something I did not start last year was harvesting seeds from what I have grown.  I did buy heirloom seeds and on our prep list is seed vaults to store for future gardens but the skills I gain now that seeds are plentiful will serve us well when they are not.  I will document our gardens progress this year to share with everyone the good and the bad.

Older posts «

%d bloggers like this: