Thursday, December 30, 2010

Survival Mom

I was very excited to learn that Survival Mom is writing a book on basically the same things she writes in her blog.  She is one of my favourite bloggers, and when I grow up, I want to be just like her.  Congratulations!

Water Supply, more words of wisdom from M.G. Kains

Chapter 15, of Five Acres and Independence: A Handbook for Small Farm Management, is about the water supply.  M.G. starts by talking about his experiences with a variety of cisterns that he'd lived with over the years, and in one paragraph, he encapsulates all the mistakes one can make with putting in a cistern to harvest rain:

"At various times I have lived in houses where the primitive rain barrel furnished family needs and reared mosquitoes; where the shallow cistern provoked profanity every winter because holes had to be chopped in the ice and from which the water had to be lifted by a "sweep", "the old oaken bucket," or hauled, hand over hand, by rope and pail; a "chain-pump"; where a deep, unprotected cistern was built without provision for drainage and had to be cleaned of noisom sludge, dead toads, mice and other gruesome ingredients every summer; where there was a "filter cistern" which could not be cleaned (!) because of inaccessibility; where an attic tank filled direct from the roof collected leaves, soot, dirt and bird droppings; and where, in several houses, the water had to be pumped by hand either to a tank in the garret or a pressure tank in the cellar."

I have read a number of blogs where the authors planned to use a cistern to harvest rainwater, and this paragraph brought these folks to mind.  I've also seen some neat instructables from those who have actually made working rain collection systems.  Here are a couple of links to some manuals about creating rainwater catchment systems:

The Texas Manual of Rainwater Harvesting
Rainwater Harvesting Systems for Montana
Harvesting Rainwater for Landscape Use, University of Arizona
Rainwater Harvesting, Practical Action Organization

This interesting page details one family's experiences with using rain barrels:

And here's another page from a fellow building a custom tank in his father's garden:

In fact, visit Instructables and do a search for rain barrels.  There are lots of ideas for those that are handy.  In conclusion, there are some books that come highly recommended for those that are looking to build a water supply system based on rainwater:

Art Ludwig has also written some great books on re-use of "greywater":

This particular blog entry also points out some of the pitfalls of gathering rain from a roof:

Blogs and Blooms

Here on my island, we've been complaining about how much rain we've had over the holidays.  Ironic really, as we will undoubtedly suffer a shortage of rain in July, and August.  We so rarely have freezing weather, it seems positively wasteful to watch the water that got away flowing off into the little swale behind the house.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Five Acres

I have been re-reading my ancient copy of "Five Acres and Independence: A Handbook for Small Farm Management" by M.G. Kains.  This practical book aboutthe realities of farming a modest sized spread has a wealth of information and guidance to help someone succeed both at farming the land and raising a family there.  In his introduction, he quotes from H.W. Wiley, author of "The Lure of the Land":

"Many a wreck has been the result of taking the family to the country, and afterwords having part or all of it become thoroughly dissatisfied.  There are many rough realities in a life of this kind that it takes the poetry out of the visions of joy, peace, contentment and success that arise in the minds of many."

One might also add that the realities of country life are such that preppers would profit from reading this book.  Anyone who has recently taken up their abode in the country and is trying to garden on a large scale for the first time, and going through the learning pains of maintaining a young orchard, new hives of bees knows what I speak of.  There is so much to learn and it seems like you have to learn it all at once.

This book was first printed in 1935, and is still in reprint today, and has 52 chapters of practical information.  And he didn't hesitate to quote from older authorities.  One important quote which I think is relevant in today's financial "climate" is from David S. Kelsey, author of "Kelsey's Rural Guide":

"Almost any farm needs a much larger working capital than the proprietor provides.  The more successful the farm is, the more it absorbs or ties up capital."

For anyone who is "going back to the land" as a preparedness measure, the stark reality is that you are unlikely to make a living at farming for a long time, if ever under the current economic system.  It's value for you is going to lie in its potential value when all goes to hell in a hand-basket.  This is one investment that should be protected. 

Mr. Kains wrote a number of books that would be useful to someone who wishes to keep chickens, or grow fruit.  However, only Five Acres and Independence: A Handbook for Small Farm Management is currently in print.

Check out these other books he has written:

Ginseng, Its Cultivation, Harvesting, 1902
Making Horticulture Pay, Experiences in Gardening and Fruit Growing, 1909
Culinary Herbs, 1912
Plant Propagation: Greenhouse and Nursery Practice, 1916
Home Fruit Grower, 1918
Profitable Poultry Production, 1920
The Principles and Practice of Pruning, 1922

These books are all available in PDF, kindle or ePUB format.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Food Bill S510

I see that Food Bill S510 was passed by the U.S. Senate yesterday:

Interesting times we live in.  It remains to be seen how this will play out in real life.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Border Vision

Over at Advanced Survival Guide, Justus discovered an article from the National Post about a proposed Canada/U.S./Mexico security perimeter that made him nervous.  I can appreciate his point of view as an American.  From the Mexican and Canadian points of view, it is also a move that does not make one feel warm and cozy.

And yet, what fuels this effort?  There are hundreds of mini-Hitlers out there fomenting hatred based on religion (both so-called Muslims and so-called Christians are guilty here) and many young inexperienced people are falling prey to this kind of charismatic bullshit.  Yet, Hitler had an agenda that was based on greed and a desire for power.  Religion was one of the tools he used to achieve his own goals: personal power folded into the goal of empowering and enriching his country, but only on his terms. 

Will this proposed "security perimeter" come into being?  Who stands to gain the most from this proposal?  Who stands to lose the most from this proposal?  Draw your own conclusions!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Stranded Overnight

If you haven't already checked it out, have a listen at Off Grid Survival about the big snow storm that hit Ontario and Michigan.  There's an interview there with one fellow who was stuck in his truck over 24 hours, all he had was a blanket, and he'd started his trip with only a quarter tank of gas in his truck.

I have two words for you:  Car Kit.  Brandon Junkin mentions in the interview that by midnight, he was unable to open his vehicle doors because the snow had drifted in so deep.  My friends, he is one lucky hombre to be able to tell his story.  But think how much better off he would have been with a survival mindset.  One thing I will bet on: Brandon is probably going to put together a car kit, and he'll probably listen to weather warnings in the future.

The one item that Off Grid Survival's recommended car kit list doesn't mention is personal sanitation.  If you can't open the vehicle doors, you can't step out for a potty break.  And for the ladies, a bottle is not going to do it.  For the car, when you can't step out, a plastic bed pan or a portable urinal may be just the ticket.

You may also want to consider some waterproof bed-pads if there are children with you.

This would also be useful if you have your dog with you.  If it's not safe for you to step out, it certainly is not safe for Rover to do so either.

Finally, if you have your car kit in the trunk of your car, you may want to think about putting it in the back seat if you set out on a trip and the weather is iffy.  Your kit won't be of any benefit if you can't get it out of the trunk because the snow is so high that you can't open the doors.

December 15, 2010:  Looks like 327 people were rescued altogether.  Reports indicate many were not dressed for the weather, and some were stranded for almost 24 hours.  Check it out:

Non-Electric Lifestyle

I was reading Wendy's post over at Surviving the Suburbs about giving up her dishwasher to save electricity and become more eco-friendly, and it struck me that we all have our little guilty electric pleasures that will be hard to give up.  I'm sitting here listening to my electric coffeemaker gurgling on the kitchen counter, and wondering how long I would need to pedal a bicycle generator to get my morning cup of joe.

There are so many things that we North Americans take for granted, and just never consider how difficult it would be if the lights went out for a very long time.  Growing up, we didn't have an electric coffeemaker.  Mom made it on top of the stove using a percolator; it went camping with us and made coffee just as happily on the camp stove as it did on the electric stove at home.

Many of my relatives had large kitchens with both electric and wood-burning cook stoves in them.  One of my aunts had an oil-burning cook stove for use in the winter.  One thing I remember vividly is watching my granny stick her hand into the over to gauge the heat and whether it was hot enough to stick a tray of cookies in.  I wouldn't have a clue what felt hot enough.  Mom's stove had a thermometer on the front of the oven door.

We've probably all seen those camping gadgets for making toast or popcorn, but these are not new inventions.  There was a time when these are what people used.  I remember sitting in front of the fire with a wire basket on a long handle full of popcorn kernels and watching them pop.  I grew up with all those non-electric tools, although I will admit that when dad came home with that first electric coffee maker when I was in high school, that produced genuine excitement.  With that baby in the house, my first major addiction was born.  Mmmm, coffee! 

Nevertheless, when I look at a lot of food storage sites, and prepper sites, even though we all talk (and write) about preparing for a time when there might not be electricity, we all have all kinds of electric gadgets for prepping with.  Now that's ironic.  M.D. Creekmore addressed the same issue in a recent post, 4 Unique Ways to Preserve Food.  Honestly, I read a post from someone who is using an electric pressure cooker to can small batches!

This has driven me to an obsessive search for all those old-fashioned non-electric tools that my mother used to use.   Amazon has an amazing selection of these products, and the prices are not bad at all: 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Raising Children to be Survivors

I was reading the Bill of No Rights again this morning, and while it is good for a pained chuckle or too, it always makes me pause and think.  Once more, I thought that so many of the problems we have in modern society is the result of "eliminating" consequences, and giving children what they have not earned.

Children are praised, even when they have not done well.  They know when they haven't done well, and so they don't value the unearned praise.  All it does is teach them that they don't have to try, and someone will fix it for them.  They never get to have that wonderful feeling of having truly good work recognized.  And for the children who actually do well, the unfairness of seeing their achievements devalued by the praise given those who didn't (and perhaps didn't even try), causes them to stop trying.  (I recommend that you read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged for her take on the social implications of lowering standards to the lowest common denominator).

The loss of consequences where parents insulate their children from punishment when they behave in a manner that is (or used to be) socially unacceptable has led to a society of liars, thieves, and violent people.  I have heard young mothers brag about how well behaved their children are, and if "junior" is "naughty", they have a time-out.  A time-out, for crying out loud.  Those children are usually little s**ts.

When I was a child, a time-out was for when you were crying, and getting on mom or dad's nerves.  I got spanked when I was bad, and it did me no harm.  I learned right off the bat which things were okay to do, and which things weren't.  No endless time-outs in a bedroom full of toys and entertainment devices.  Just a single sharp statement, and I knew exactly where I stood.  My parents loved me, and I knew it because they taught me the rules of real life.

I tried to do the same for my kids, so that at least at home, they got realistic information about how life works.  Unfortunately, they were mired in the public school system, and I do not find them to be as prepared for reality as I would have hoped.  Both learned to work with their hands, but didn't learn to value that knowledge. But they both do understand my desire to be prepared for whatever comes down the chute, and I hope that one day, they will take steps of their own instead of planning to "go home".

Friday, December 10, 2010

Food Storage - Baking Necessities

Check out this post from the Jodie and Julie at Food Storage Made Easy.  If you aren't familiar with their website, this is a good time to check it out.  This is one of the best websites out their for those new to the food storage scene.

Baking powder is a real must for baking, and yet its storage life is quite short.  Store the basic ingredients, baking soda and cream of tartar (both of which have very long storage lives) and you are set for years of baking to come.

Another great site is Safely Gathered In, which recently posted on this same topic.

What You Can Learn from Playing Video Games

I had an interesting conversation with a fellow at work yesterday about what you can learn from video games.  Now, I've always thought video games are great for teaching eye-hand coordination.  It worked well with my youngest who had real problems in that area.  But apparently, there is more that you can learn.

One thing my young friend mentioned is that you learn not to panic.  Suddenly, a raptor jumps you from out of nowhere; what do you do!  Apparently, long time gamers learn to not panic.  Another skill is to anticipate possible scenarios and plan for them, or planning strategies.  Thirdly, another skill is to learn to deal with tedium as in "grinding out rep", and "farming".  So, my friend thinks that all that time spent playing World of Warcraft is good survival training.

I can see the value in learning to not panic, but strategic thinking is best developed in handling real world events.  In real life, your strategy cannot include running through your opponent, and rezzing if things don't go as planned.  Indeed, if your main skills are game related, and you are a computer potato, you are not going to be physically prepared.

It's possible that in a bad situation where you need to direct younger folk who are clueless about real life, drawing upon gaming analogies can at least help them understand the situation, and why you need them to follow a certain strategy.  For example, you can tell them it's like doing a boss raid where you have to do everything just right, or the raid will wipe.  And if they complain that you don't trust them, let them know that all the tedious little jobs you are giving them to do is "grinding rep" with your faction, or they are "farming" for mats.

If you have kids that spend all their leisure time in the cyber world, you may need to offer them a "quest" and help them apply their "skills" in the real world.

Friday, December 3, 2010


A few weeks ago, I was reading Kellene Bishop's Preparedness Pro blog and she had posted about reusable canning lids.  A number of readers commented on the lids, and I recommend that you check out the blog, AND the comments.   Initially, when I saw these re-usable lids, I was all enthused, and thought I would like to have some.  This seems like it might be a useful item to have on hand.

However, I'm put in mind of a few recent blogs I read that asked if you are going broke prepping.  It seems like there's always someone coming up with some new "must-have" preparedness product, and people flock to purchase them, which is fine if you have the money to spend. 
However, for those of us on a budget, these new "must-haves" can be depressing to contemplate. 

I reuse my metal ones.  And I can pick them up at the dollar store very economically.  For the price of one flat's worth of re-usable plastic lids and rubbers, I can pick up 10 or more packs of the tin lids.  If you carefully inspect a used tin lid, you can readily tell when the sealing material is gone and not suitable for reuse.  And even a new lid can fail to seal, which is why we test the seal after cooling. 

So, while I think it would be wonderful to have the plastic re-usable lids, I believe that I will stock up on the tin lids. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Economic Collapse

It seems clear that some sort of economic collapse is on the way in the U.S., and that would tend to have a domino effect around the world.  When that will happen, no one can predict because there are simply to many factors to consider, and it's possible that the triggering event will not even look financial, if you know what I mean.

And remember, there are groups in the United States that are actively trying to take away freedom of speech.  If they are successful, a great many blogs and sites with useful information for the prepper minded may simply disappear because they are deemed offensive and alarmist. 

Be prepared!  Checked out this video from RickVanMan.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Couple of Interesting Blogs on Home Food Storage

Momzoo posted a blog about making tomato powder from her garden, complete with pictures.  Thanks, Momzoo.  It certainly was inspiring to see what one can accomplish with a dehydrator.

Another nice post on canning applesauce came from Michelle at my family prepared.  It was also beautifully illustrated.  I really like the hints and tips she provided.

Steve Dowdney, over at's blog has a nice post on making Christmas Pepper Jelly that sounds delicious.

I also found a really nice blog called Safely Gathered In on food storage which a section of recipes using food storage staples.  The recipes are focused on the kind of food storage where you stock what you eat and eat what you stock, and most of the of the recipes have pictures.

Another great blog with food storage recipes is My Year Living on Food Storage.  This blog regales the reader with one family's experiences with eating using food storage items, both the bulk staples and the store bought canned food pantry.  It's very interesting as we learn with this family about what actually works out well and what doesn't.  She also posts a list of books that have helped her find recipes to use the storage items.

The Everyday Gourmet Cooking with Long-term Food Storage
Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Family Safe in a Crisis
It's in the Bag a New Approach to Food Storage
A Year's Supply In "Seven Days"
Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage & Preservation
Food Storage 101 Where do I begin? (Cookin' With Home Storage)
I Can't Believe It's Food Storage
Emergency Preparedness The Right Way
The Essential Food Storage Cookbook
Food Security for the Faint of Heart
Cooking with Food Storage Made Easy
How to Develop a Low-Cost Family Food-Storage System
Not Your Mother's Food Storage
Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation
Pantry Cooking, Quick &Easy Food Storage Recipes - 2006 publication
Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables

Anyway, you get the picture.  There are lots of cookbooks and guides to help you make choices that will fit your budget, and that your family will eat.

Preparedness and Planning

Another fantastic post from The Survivalist Blog Dot Net.  This is the best summing up of the first principles of preparedness I have seen.  I especially appreciate the point on having a team.  Anyone who imagines that being a lone survivor is a good thing needs to re-watch Castaway.  The dangers of being injured or hurt when alone, and the sheer horror of being lonely are well-illustrated in this film.

I also like the points on planning, point 2 being "with a paper and pen write out a detailed survival plan", and point 6, "know when to change strategies."   "The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
Gang aft agley", quote Robbie Burns.

I'm going to be daring and add to point 2:

Whatever your long term goal is, set a series of mini-goals, and don't rush.  As a self-confessed lazy person, I want to do the job right the first time, so I don't have to do it again.  This means a little extra work in the short term because a detailed plan really is necessary.

Planning is especially important if you have non-preppers in the house.  Hubby has been known to give away some of my prepper supplies because "we have lots".  Well, duh, Skippy!  That's the point!  It takes planning to keep him from giving away the store.

More About Emergency Sanitation

Found a really good article on how to prepare for emergency sanitation over at Self-Reliance Central.  One of the suggestions is to have a bucket with a toilet seat, bags and kitty litter.  And if you already have a cat, it's no biggie to buy an extra bag every time you pick up some up.  Whoever uses the kitty litter, it is disposed of in the same fashion.

Of course, if you live out in the country, it might be prudent to locate a spot where you can dig a discreet outhouse disguised as a garden shed.  There are so many fake outhouses out there, no one will give it a second thought as long as you are stealthy about digging the hole and scattering the dirt around the garden.

For that matter, it occurs to me that until you actually need to use the hole for matters sanitary, it could very well serve as storage.  Just a nebulous thought.  The details I leave to your imagination.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Guerrilla Gardening

I have been re-reading Guerrrilla Gardening by John F. Adams, which was published in 1983.  Recently I posted about Senate Bill S410, and the alarm it was causing in some circles.  John F. Adams raised alarms about legislation of another kind.  He wrote:

"Another trend that threatens traditional seeds is downright Orwellian.  Although individual companies do develop and claim ownership of new varieties, basically, except for some ornamental varieties such as roses, plants and seed have always been, in whatever variety they grew, public property.  In recent years there has been a movement to pass laws all over the world, but especially in Europe and North America, that would effectively take ownership of plant species out of the public domain and make such ownership private and commercial.  Because the subtle differences between similar varieties of plants makes legal distinctions extremely difficult, there is a movement of members ot he European Common Market to restrict varieties of plants that can be grown to those listed in the "Common Catalog"...."

Although it has been 27 years since Adams penned those words, it was kind of chilling to read.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Living through the Changes

Read a very interesting blog from The Archdruid Report about how perspective changes your viewpoint about events as we experience them compared to events as they are recorded for posterity.  The observant can very clearly see that the times are a-changing right now, and some might say that things are changing for the worse.  As John notes:  "Recent headlines note events that most people would have considered cataclysmic not that long ago."

Others might see the changes as necessary growing pains for the species.  The observant are alarmed by the rapid acceleration of "negative" events we see going on around us, and taking the long view, we prepare to survive.  Being prepared for every possible scenario that life on planet Earth, or in the Milky Way, for that matter is not feasible.  But not preparing at all is the kind of grasshopper thinking that leads to a lot of dead grasshoppers.  I recommend that you read this entry in its entirety; it's well worth the time to do so.  We are in the autumn, so to speak, in the current cycle of changes and winter is coming. 

By the way, John recommends anyone interested in gardening as a survival skill might want to learn how to breed varieties of plants that will thrive where you live:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Winter Driving and the Car Kit

Well, winter has arrived on the island a bit early.  It started to snow on Friday evening, and it has been drifting down on and off since.  The forecast is for -8 C (17 F) tomorrow, and I'm not looking forward to scraping the car off before heading off to work.  And like a lot of wise folks , I have been dusting off my car kits and revamping to match the weather.

My car kit resides in the back seat on the floor.  Back east, the one time I had to use my kit, it was in the trunk, and I had a devil of a time getting it out.  After getting out of the car, slipping in the snow, falling half under the car and having the door slam on the middle finger of my right hand, I  managed to get the door open, and rescue my finger. I was forced to use my left hand to battle open the trunk, and I had a hell of a time.  So my kit now lives in the back seat.

Where does your car kit live?  You do have one don't you?  You don't!?!  Well, why not?  Not sure what to put in?  How about booster cables, a first aid kit, water bottles, granola bars, fruit roll-ups, pepperoni sticks, dried apricots, some TP, emergency candles, cups, hand warmers, extra mittens, scarves, socks, extra clothes, some blankets, a couple of towels, emergency sanitation (a bucket, some plastics bags and kitty litter), a shovel, lighters/matches, something stable to put the candles in so they don't melt into your cup holders or onto the dashboard, some books, flares, and so on.  Put your thinking cap on.  You could start with a purchased kit and build from there.  The point is, be prepared.  It's not just a Boy Scout motto.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Toilet Paper and Beyond

On the weekends, I'm able to spend more time reading all of the blogs and sites I follow, and ran into a very interesting article on toilet paper.  I don't know about you, but the thought of being without TP is daunting.  I always have a good stock on hand, but let's face it, who has room for a year's supply of toilet paper, let alone a month's supply.  It takes up a lot of space.  Survival News Online has an interesting article on the topic.

I have actually given it some thought and I believe that a supply of wash cloths from the dollar store would be a good thing to have on hand, assuming you have a good water supply to wash them out with. 

There have been times in my life where an outhouse was the only place to go for that 20 minute read, and regular paper does work, once it's been "softened".  There's a trick to working the paper so that it doesn't rip, but nevertheless still be able to do the job without causing an injury, if you know what I mean.  You definitely need to practice this skill.  The first step is to crumple the paper and unfold it several times.  Then, using both hands, just start working it in circular motions.  I do not recommend using paper in a regular toilet, as there is no real way to soften it sufficiently to allow it to flush cleanly.

For the short term emergency, a bucket and plastic bags, and some sort of disinfectant can work for emergency sanitation.  For the longer term, a composting toilet seems like a good thing to have.  Heck, as an environmentally friendly technology, it seems like a good thing to have.

The Survivalist Blog Dot Net

If you don't already have a subscription to this fantastic blog, The Survivalist Blog Dot Net, I highly recommend it.  I find that I frequently go back and re-read his blogs because they are so full of intelligent comments that often give voice to nebulous thoughts I've had myself.

This morning, I re-read a post from October about minimalism, or not getting carried away.  He talks about not spending too much time and money on gear just for the sake of having gear.  Skills, and multi-purpose tools are more useful.  I particularly related to his having to clean out an overstuffed shed and just get rid of the excess because in practical terms, the money invested could better be used elsewhere.

I can relate to that.  I moved across the country from one end to the other, and I had to do some serious down-sizing, but it was ultimately worthwhile.  Sometimes your possessions start to own you, and they might even get in the way of surviving a serious situation.  How many people have died trying to save some possession from a burning building?  Was it really worth dying for?

Take care to think about what you are buying and why you are buying it.  Do you already have something that could fulfill the purpose of the thing you are thinking of buying?  If so, then maybe your money would be better spent elsewhere.

What Has Encouraged Me to Keep On with My Prepping

Sometimes, with hubby being such an ostrich, I feel pretty discouraged about carrying on with my food storage rotation.  I try to gently discuss preparedness with him, and my family, and encourage them to have a realistic viewpoint about future developments.  You probably do the same.  And maybe they think you are nuts for preparing for the worst.  What I have found with my family is that over time, I have seen quite a few of them start "prepping" without even consciously realizing that is what they are doing.  My favourite cousin and his wife just put together bug out bags, after years of him ribbing me.

When I heard about that, I had to give him a call, and I ribbed him about the bug out bags, of course (payback).  He told me that now that he had a family, he started worrying about things a lot more, and having a nice full pantry made him feel more secure that they would be able to manage if one of them lost his or her job, or their hours got cut back.  I asked him why he got the bug out bags, and he was kind of sheepish about that.  Apparently at his work, the boss had purchased "get home" bags for each of the employees, and so he took it home to show his wife. Well then, she wanted one too, and one thing lead to another.

It's nice to know I'm not the only nut out there on the preparedness tree!  And what a great boss my cousin has!  Seriously, I'm jealous...

Friday, November 19, 2010


I'll bet you don't have as many socks in your bug out bag as Oregon Mike has in his backpack.  He uses socks as little mini pack bags in his backpack for camping, and so forth.  I think that in addition to extra socks for wearing, if worse comes to worse, you could have lots of extra socks to spare if you follow his fine example.  Hope his fiancee doesn't do him an injury for absconding with hers.

Keeping Children Entertained When Surviving in Place

As I was reading Digg this morning, a lot of folks had dug an article about remembering the taste of Play-Doh.  The things people reminisce about!  However, it reminded me of the many times in my childhood when we were snowed in, and mom made homemade playdough, and it was perfectly safe to eat, although I recall it was very salty.

One of the commenters mentioned edible playdough as well, and provided a link to a page all about, yes, edible playdough.  There are more links below to other recipes.  There are two types, ones made with peanut butter, and ones made with flour.  A properly stocked prepper's pantry should have all the ingredients needed to keep small children entertained fairly quietly. 

I recall that mom actually had a book with the recipe, and other fun, quiet activities.  That book is probably no longer in print, but if you have children, a similar book would probably be a good idea:

Airport Security

Read an interesting article this morning, courtesy of Digg, about how Isreal handles airport security.  Considering that they've been dealing with terrorists for a lot longer than any other country in the world, I think having a look at their security measures is a good idea.  Check out this article from the Star.  Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel's largest hub, Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

Behavioural profiling.  Ignoring the politification (is that a word?) of the word profiling, it is a reality that people, regardless of race, gender, religious beliefs or age, who are planning to do something that people will want them to not do and flies in the face of their own instincts,  will exhibit certain behaviours unconsciously, and these behaviours can be observed by someone who has been properly trained.  Many layers of well-trained eyes protect travelers without invading their privacy.

This is a concept that has been around for a long time.  Indeed, some researchers believe that intuition is an unconscious form of behavioural profiling.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Recycling a Slinky

Just saw an interesting ad on Patriots Against the NWO for a Slinky Jr. Shortwave antenna.  That ignited my curiosity so I set out to learn more, tying in as it does my earlier post on communications preparedness.  The ad linked to eBay where you can purchase said antenna, asking price $10.19 U.S.  Not a bad price.

A little more research lead me to the forum archives on with instructions on how to make your own.  If you are technically inclined, a supply of slinkies might be a great survival item to have on hand.  I think I'll just print that out and pop that into my Just in Case binder. 

Are You A Tech-Junkie?

I think most of us are highly dependent on our electronic and electrical gadgets, and it's astonishing how many of the "simplest" devices now have chips in them to control them.  Modern Stronghold has an chilling piece about what the consequences could be if all those chips were taken out, not by an EMP, but a virus.  The virus he's referring to in his piece is stuxnet, and it's designed to be able to hijack the code in the device it has infiltrated, and customized to sabotage or steal code and/or data.

Imagine then, if you will, a world where electricity was no longer readily available because a virus targetted the control systems at all power plants using certain PLC's, or where driving a car that contains a computer is taking your life in your hands because viral code had been introduced during the manufacturing process.  Maybe your air conditioner develops the habit of dropping temperatures to the freezing point and you live in someplace where it can get brutally hot.  Using air conditioning becomes an exercise in extremes, assuming you have electricity to start with.  Sounds like the beginnings of a great sci-fi novel. 

It's a weird world we live in.  Think I'll jump in my computer-controlled car and go to work, where I sit in front of a computer, in a building where access is controlled by a computer...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Yet another fascinating blog entry from Preparedness Pro about communications in an emergency situation.  When all hell breaks loose, it may not break loose where you live, it may break loose where someone you love lives.  How can you keep in touch?

Kellene makes a number of very intelligent recommendations including having a wireline phone with corded phone for when the power goes out, skype (which can be used with a cell phone) for emergencies away, and a number of other options for long-term outages when wireline phones are not an option.  How about becoming a Ham radio operator and get plugged into an alternate network of news on the ground.  Learn shorthand, and/or Sign Language.  There was an episode of Star Trek where Sign Language was used in battle when regular communications were out.

It strikes me that if you have a group of like-minded preppers and you all learned an abbreviated set of signs to use in emergencies when quiet is necessary, that would be a very good thing.  You can even come up with signs of your own.

Disturbing News from South of the Border

If Americans ever received a clearer indicator that they no longer live in the land of the free, it's the kind of legislation the U.S. Senate is contemplating right now, Senate Bill S410 Food Safety Moderation Act.  It seems ironic that it is Canadian "watch dogs" that have alerted Americans to this threat.  Check out the article.

I've read a lot of survivalist blogs and texts floating around on the internet, and there was one fellow/group who predicted this very thing, and worse, so it was a bit surreal to see this kind of thing going on in the U.S.  Imagine making seed-saving illegal.  Let's take another step, and imagine making it illegal to use compost that you made yourself, illegal to grow non-hybrid crops, illegal to use home-made alternatives to commercial products.  Sounds like a movie I recently watched called Downstream is not entirely crazy.

I hope this kind of insane BigCorp mentality isn't contagious.

Update December 1, 2010:  Check out Dr. Laura's Blog.  The thought police are rising in America.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dental Care

Now this is a topic that hit a nerve, what with a dental appointment coming up.  For most people, dental care is something that only happens in an emergency because if you don't have coverage through your work, you can't afford it.  In all my surfing of the web on survival and prep sites, I have read very few thoughts on dental care except to pack extra toothbrushes and toothpaste, and perhaps have a copy of Where There Is No Dentist.  Recently, I was looking at Modern Survival Online's post for the 14th, and he mentioned reading a post on another surivial blog, What If IT Is Today?.

What if you lose a filling, or your tooth breaks, or a cap falls off.  Even if you are just waiting a week or so for a dental appointment, that week can feel like an eternity.  Those folks bought something called "DenTek Temparin Max Lost Filling & Loose Cap Repair".  I'm thinking that this would be a useful thing to have even if nothing disastrous every happened.  For folks in the US, this is available at Wal-Mart.  I'm going to have to see if I can find something like that here on the island.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Warmth in a Cold Climate

I was reading today's post from Wendy's "Surviving the Suburbs" blog about staying warm in a cold weather.  Here on the island, we do have weather cold enough to be dangerous, although thankfully, it doesn't last quite as long as it does in Maine.  She mentioned the use of a kotatsu to provide on-the-spot heating for people sitting down to a meal.  Being a curious sort, I began researching it on the internet.

It seems that some folks even take a nap under the blanket of the kotatsu, and I can imagine hubby doing the same thing, so Wendy's concerns about the carbon monoxide from a wood or coal-heated kotatsu is a good one.  I read another post about the use of the kotatsu, and other common effects of cold weather as experienced by Amy Chavez in Japan.  Cold is a very difficult thing to live with as a constant feature.  In many ways, it is like being in constant pain.

Wendy's idea is to heat rocks in a grill outside while cooking a meal, and boiling water, and then to bring these inside.  Considering that even when you have a warm coat or sweater on, your legs and feet still get pretty cold, this is a smart idea.  Interestingly, has an article on how to build your own kotatsu, although it uses an electric heater.

I noticed when looking at images of the kotatsu in use on the internet that many people have high-backed bed-seats, and that the blanket drapes around the sides of it so that the back doesn't get chilled.

Even if the electricity isn't out, as an energy saving option, this seems like a great idea.  Another idea worth looking into is a variation on the Kang bed-stove.  A modern version of this type of heating can be found in the book Rocket Mass Heaters, by Ianto Evans, and Leslie Jackson.  You can read some excerpts from this excellent book at their website.

Dehydrated Oranges

It's amazing how a fellow can turn into an instant expert.  Hubby, who thinks my prepper "antics" are just too freaky, suddenly became an expert on dehydrating, which he has never done before.  It started the other day with that extra bag of onions I picked up to dehydrate.  I was slicing them into rings, and he insisted all I needed to do is quarter them and separate them into it's natural sections.  Well, I learned a long time ago that this is a guy who can't be argued with.  It turn's his brain into petrified rock, so I said, "well, let's see how it turns out."

The properly sliced onion dehydrated nicely, just like the instructions said.  His chucks are dry on the outside and not dry in the middle.  Regrettably, he hasn't caught on that the natural division have a skin designed to prevent the onion from drying out.

Last night, I was slicing up some oranges to try dehydrating them, something neither of us has done before, so I had first checked on the internet and in my books to find out how thick to slice it and what temperature to set the thermostat.

He proceeds to tell me that all I have to do is separate them into their natural sections and they'll dry no problem.  And I said, well that's not what the instructions say.  Hubby got made at me for arguing with him.  I kept slicing, and he proceeded to divided up "his" oranges into sections.  This morning, the slices are nicely dehydrated, and the sections are not.

It strikes me that in a survival situation, you are going to have to deal with people (a LOT of people!!) who THINK they know what to do and don't actually.  My tussles with hubby about something as simple as how to dehydrate produce is just an extremely minor case in point.  He used to made jerky with his dad when he was a teenager, and so he thinks he knows how to dehydrate anything.  He likes to go fishing in the nice weather, so he thinks he's a fisherman.  He used to go hunting with his dad, so he thinks he's a hunter.

In a survival situation, we are not suddenly going to start hunting and fishing and getting by on that.  Everybody who hunts and fishes for real is going to have the same idea, and there won't be enough fish and deer to go around.  That's why home-storage is important.

I read something someone wrote, and I wish I remembered where and who, but this fellow said that in a situation where the powers that be, or looters, decide to confiscate other people's food-storage, home-canned stuff might be less likely to be confiscated.  His argument was that the modern mindset says that commercially canned food is safer than home-canned, and there are a lot of people who would refuse to eat home-canned food because they are afraid it's bad.  A dust-covered shelf full of home-canned jars with labels dated several years back might very well be passed over.  It's an interesting thought.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

What's First?

Generally speaking, all survivalists talk about stockpiling food, and goods, and acquiring skills.  However, I'm of the opinion that you need to start with a plan.  I've looked at a lot of sites that give lists, and some even suggest the order to buy things in.

In my ramblings on the internet, I have come across a few sites that I think offer some valuable information that can help you plan.

Food Storage Made Easy is a good site when you are trying to figure out how to get started with food storage.  They have a newsletter you can sign up for with "baby steps" to getting your food storage going on, or get the whole thing as an e-book.

Secrets of Urban Survival is another great site from David Morris.  He sells a course which helps you to decide what you need to prepare for and then how to plan your preparations.  It has gotten very good reviews, and I'm saving up to buy it for myself.  Sign up for his newsletter.  You can also check out his new book, Urban Survival Guide: Learn The Secrets Of Urban Survival To Keep You Alive After Man-Made Disasters, Natural Disasters, and Breakdowns In Civil Order.

The book One Second After has generated a certain amount of interest in preparedness due to its realistic portrayal of what could/would happen after an EMP event.  The progression of societal breakdown would be fairly similar after any large-scale sudden breakdown of the commercial system which moves food and goods around North America.  I read it with great interest and recommend it as both a good read, and food for thought.

My Two Cents' Worth

I've been reading blogs and sites about the various aspects of preparedness, survivalism, food storage, and all the scenarios that are floating around in peoples' heads about why they need to "stock up and hunker down" for quite a while now, and I thought I would post my thoughts.  Why not!  Everyone is these days it seems.

I'm in my 50s, female, and have the usual weight accumulation that seems to afflict women my age.  It's pretty hard to stay active when the fastest you can go is the speed of your youngest child.  By the time that one gets going faster, you've washed out of the race.  Sucks, but that's life.

I've been more interested in the preppers who are looking long and hard at the reality that when some disaster strikes, or slowly erodes our lifestyle, few of us are going to be able to "get out of Dodge" because there's nowhere to go.  I live on an island.  Mind you, it's a big island, but just the same, most of the goods for sale in the stores are imported from the mainland, so barring a volcano or tsunami happening here, most folks will stay put.

That having been said, I still see the value in being quietly prepared for "unquiet" times.  My partner thinks I'm a "freak" for putting by extras even though those extras saved us when I was laid off work.

My two cents' worth?  Life is uncertain, so it's just smart to prepare for the unexpected.  Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.