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Rabbits truly are the “one-size-fits-all” preppers domestic livestock and after reading the reasons why raising rabbits could be ideal for any prepper, we think you will agree.

Raising Rabbits for the obvious benefit: Meat

Believe it or not, rabbits actually are the most efficient of all livestock in converting feed to muscle mass. That basically means that it is going to take less pellets/grass/weeds per pound of meat to raise a rabbit to butchering size than for any other animal, including chickens. At the same time, rabbits are also faster at reaching butchering size than chickens. For example, if you start incubating eggs the same day that the rabbits are bred, rabbits will be ready to harvest about a month before the chickens are.

Furthermore, rabbits are a little more efficient in terms of man hours and equipment investment required. The female rabbits (known as “does”) do all the work of raising kits. All a person needs to do is supply a nest box. On the other hand, you need an incubator (and electricity) to efficiently raise chickens. (Hens are not the most efficient at raising chicks as this has been bred out of them over time. Actually, even in ancient Egypt there were commercial hatcheries for raising chickens.) Yes, we do keep chickens here, but only for their eggs. Rabbits can easily be kept in cages, even inside the house if need be.

A rabbit will provide enough meat for a family dinner, unlike goats and pigs which will provide a lot more meat, but will also require refrigeration or other means of preserving the excess. Rabbit is an all-white meat that is low in fat and cholesterol while being very high in protein. A common objection to rabbit meat is “rabbit starvation.” This happens when an already truly starving person eats only wild rabbits for a long period. Wild rabbits naturally have far less fat due to the circumstances of their existence.

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Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits

Domesticated rabbits, on the other hand, are a bit more sedentary and do acquire some fat as a result.

Rabbit meat will also be an important source of food for our dogs. While some cringe at the thought of raising cute bunnies for dog food, our dogs will be critical to our safety and peace of mind in the coming years. Not only will they help protect us and our children during the day, but they will also be on the alert at night, allowing us to get some much-needed sleep. Our dogs will have to be fed. Commercial dog food takes a whole lot of storage space and doesn’t have a long shelf life. And history shows that the woods will be depleted of wild squirrels and rabbits rather quickly.

Bear in mind, however, that not all rabbits are created equal. In fact, many rabbit breeds raised in the US today (and actually, all over the developed world) are merely pets. Commercial meat breeds to consider raising include Californian, New Zealand, Satin, and Flemish giant (for larger families). Rabbit does will need to be bred at least twice per year to maintain higher numbers of kits in the litters. If a doe is bred only once per year, the number of kits in each litter will be lower. Of course, does can be bred much more often.

MANURE

Bunny beans, bunny gold, droppings, doodles—whatever you call it, rabbit manure is by far the most desired of all manures by gardeners. It is higher in nitrogen than any of the other common (chicken, cow, horse, goat, pig, sheep) livestock manures. And nitrogen is what you want for growing lush salad greens and the early phases of corn, tomatoes, and other vegetables. Rabbit manure, like all other livestock manures, is very high in organic matter, which will improve drainage and soil structure.

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Rabbit droppings are ideal for boosting decomposition in the compost pile as well

Rabbit manure has all the benefits of steer or chicken manure, but with a substantial advantage. The manures from most other livestock are “hot” and must be composted before adding to the garden. On the other hand, bunny beans are “cold” and can be applied directly into the garden. They are already perfectly pelletized, making controlled application a cinch.

For those gardeners who prefer to compost waste first, rabbit droppings are ideal for boosting decomposition in the compost pile as well. And if you really don’t want to apply the droppings directly to the garden, but don’t wish to wait for them to compost either, you can make a compost tea in just a few days. Simply add a large scoop of manure to a five-gallon bucket, fill with water, and briefly stir it a few times per day for a couple of days. Give your vegetables some of this brew and watch your plants really take off.

And finally, one non-garden use for rabbit pellets (but only the nice dry ones, not the urine-soaked ones): dog treats. Yep, you heard it here first. Most veterinarians will confirm that no self-respecting dog will pass up the opportunity to beg for a few of these gems. They are actually full of vitamins.
In a TEOTWAWKI situation, those people who have decided to raise rabbits for meat and manure will be extremely fortunate. They will be able to instantly kick into meat production for their own families, as well as producing some for barter with others. Let’s face it—very few people will have the desire or the time or resources to raise dozens or hundreds of rabbits. Far better to let the rabbit doe raise her kits to eight weeks of age and then sell breeding pairs to others so that they can supply their own meat and manure needs.

FIBER

And for those who really want to maximize the value of their rabbits, consider the following:

While rabbit pelts have some limited uses in clothing, the fiber from Angora rabbits is far more versatile, and valuable. Angora fiber is seven to eight times warmer than sheep’s wool, while at the same time being much softer, much lighter, and hypoallergenic. It is ideal for baby clothing. While it will take a little practice to learn to spin Angora—like one or two hours—after that it is easy. Spinning wheels are a tad pricey, but Angora can easily be spun on drop spindles. Indeed, there are many spinners who have nice spinning wheels that actually prefer to use a drop spindle for spinning Angora. Drop spindles can run from a few to a hundred dollars; I have one that I purchased for $30 for spinning angora. I actually prefer the ones I’ve made myself from dowels and wooden wheels.
Another advantage of raising Angoras is that some women really benefit from having a creative outlet, and especially so in times of stress. Even a few minutes at the end of the day, before settling down to sleep, can be very calming. In addition, it is also a good activity for younger girls. While one may question the value of time spent spinning and knitting Angora fiber now, once those mittens or socks are on in the dead of winter, all doubts will cease.

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French Angora’s – Meat-wise, they weigh in at 7.5 to 10.5 lbs. It’s a good size for the family dinner

Should you decide that Angora rabbits are a good fit for your situation, I’d recommend French Angoras for several reasons, but basically they fit the prepper’s ideal best. Meat-wise, they weigh in at 7.5 to 10.5 lbs. It’s a good size for the family dinner. Giant and German Angoras are larger, but Giants have a reputation for being difficult to breed and produce a litter and also require frequent grooming. Germans may be a good choice, but they are hard to find in North America. English and Satin Angoras are smaller, with Satins having a higher maintenance coat and English having a much, much higher maintenance coat. Avoid crossbreeds—their offspring will be unpredictable with regards to size, coat maintenance requirements, and whether they actually produce good fiber for spinning.

And while on the topic of coat maintenance, you’re probably wondering how much time exactly is required? Really, it’s not much at all—my 11- and 14-year-old daughters spend less than five minutes per week per rabbit on grooming. However, junior rabbits generally require a bit more grooming as it takes a while for the guard hairs that prevent matting to start growing in. Contrast that with the English Angoras which can require up to thirty minutes per day.

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Pets will be a luxury that ultimately few will be able to afford after TEOTWAWKI hits. But an animal can be important therapy for some people. If the pet can also have a productive purpose at the same time, so much the better.

With their relatively small space requirements, rabbits can be kept indoors if necessary, due to being an apartment dweller or to protect them from being stolen. They are much more easily transported and can even ride in a passenger’s lap. Rabbits are perfectly quiet—even a next-door neighbor won’t know you’re raising them. If your rabbits make more manure than what you need for your garden, you can barter the excess to other gardeners in exchange for some produce. With the ability to produce meat faster and more efficiently than any other domestic livestock, and for all the other reasons listed above, rabbits really are one-size-fits-all for preppers.

  Rabbits truly are the “one-size-fits-all” preppers domestic livestock and after reading the reasons why raising rabbits could be ideal for any prepper, we think you will agree. Raising Rabbits for the

Preppers are a lot like spiders.

Generally speaking, web producing spiders create webs to trap their prey. They rely on vibrations they detect on the lines of web to know when it is time to react. Otherwise, they keep a low profile and lie in wait- vigilant…preparing to react. The logical perceptions of men and women who observe, reflect and act on the vibrations we pick up from the various avenues of communication and information gathering all around us, makes us much more sensitive to events than the general public.

Recently, there were two incidents which I feel preppers should stop and take stock of. Situational awareness is broader than just your immediate surroundings, it is the world we live in and the trends swirling around us every day.

The first was the incident in Michigan. A man used his vehicle to mow down some innocent cyclists. The act itself stands alone as being horrific. There is no question of his guilt. But it is the vibrations from the news media that made me take a second look. The media quickly used images and posting from his face book page-to paint psychological portrait of the man even before he had his first day in court.

Most if not all of us maintain a presence on various websites, chat rooms, Facebook pages and the like. Free speech and the right to speak our minds is a RIGHT which we all have and are not afraid to use. However, we should always be aware- that our postings could be used against us. A quote here a quote there- taken out of context, is all it takes to destroy any stand, or position we might want to take.

The second incident would be the mass shooting in Orlando Florida. I doubt if I need to convey any of the details. This too was a horrific event. But, all of us that make the effort to be prepared, for any abnormal situation, to defend our family and our homes- must take stock of the vibrations from this incident. This event is another warning that politicians are riding the GUNS ARE BAD bandwagon to not only get elected but as a solution to resolve the issues of gun violence that the media blows up larger than life itself.

Gun control will not solve the problem of violence. There are enough laws already on the books that adding more won’t solve the problem. People who have military looking weapons are not bad people just because they own this type of weapon. But, more and more the media are painting that picture and controlling the message. We should at least be cognizant of this threat as we communicate with one another.

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But addressing one facet of a problem is like looking though a kaleidoscope and only seeing one image. It seems to me that our government needs to look at how society in all its many facets influences the very life style that we are trying to prevent. How we address mental Illness? How do we combat the digital recruitment of terrorist groups?

Our county went crazy when they were told that the NSA was collecting Metadata from cell phones. The ACLU was up in arms when they learned that police departments were keeping Muslims under surveillance.

Images from body cameras worn by police officers are in some cases used to convict a police officer in the media before he or she has any chance to receive a fair investigation or a day in court. By the time they do have that day- a verdict that does not match public opinion- is rejected and the officer is subjected to an unjust fate.

We as a country need to decide what our governments should be allowed to do in order to keep our country safe. We also need to be able to place safeguards to prevent them for abusing this power. All these different facets and many more need to be addressed and decisions made before we can ever turn the tide of this violent environment that we live in.

But before this happens, people like us will receive the evil eye. People like us must stay aware of the vibrations and be prepared. This will be a SHTF event that our bug out bags will not help us with. That our weapons will not necessary save us from. Our weapons are our minds and our abilities to understand what is going on and being able to adapt and overcome the unknown obstacles.

Are you Spider senses tingling?

Preppers are a lot like spiders. Generally speaking, web producing spiders create webs to trap their prey. They rely on vibrations they detect on the lines of web to know when

 

Let’s face it, food can be heavy and bulky, even if it’s MREs or dehydrated. Other things may take precedence, like equipment and medicine for someone with special needs, or maybe you are just not able to carry much when you bug out. Carrying some fishing line and a few hooks is much easier than carrying cans of fish! While you may not feel confident that you can catch enough fish to survive, adding plants and occasional meat will keep you alive and even thriving.

A lack of food doesn’t have to mean your starvation. Nature provides food in abundance if we know where to look, how to get it and what to do with it once we’ve got it.

Different foods are available in different seasons and every area has its own wild food so you will have study up on what grows where you are, both plant and animal. Now is the time to find out what all those plants and animals are and how you can use them. The more sources you have for food, the better your chances of survival, not to mention you’ll be happier with a bigger variety of food.

Here are some basic guidelines to get you started, but don’t stop here. Go looking for information that’s specific to your area. Be sure you can identify plants. Most plants are not poisonous, but it only takes one to cause real trouble. Don’t rely on just one guide, but compare several. Look in books and on the internet, and, if you’re lucky enough, get someone who knows to show you.

Winter:

The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Preparing Edible Wild Plants

Summertime is the most abundant, but don’t think that just because it’s winter you’ll never find anything to eat. Roots of certain plants are still available in many areas. Even if the ground is frozen, you may be able to dig roots from under the tree canopy because the ground is covered with leaves and needles, creating a protecting mulch. What plants? Look for dandelions, daylilies. You may find cattails standing in partially frozen or thawed water. It will be cold work to get them, but cattail roots can be eaten if you boil and remove the fibers. Dandelions are the hardiest of small plants, with long taproots which can be boiled and eaten or roasted and ground into “coffee.” Daylilies have tubers that taste something like potatoes. There are no doubt other plants in your area with edible and otherwise useful roots or tubers.

You can fish and hunt in the winter if you are prepared, which means that you will need fishing line and hooks and a method of killing game, whether it’s a gun, bow and arrow, spear or a good slingshot. What’s in your area? Whether it’s squirrel, deer, pheasant or robin, find out the best way to hunt and prepare it.

Spring:

If there is dock growing in your area, it’s the first “green” out. Learn to recognize it and you’ll have a tasty dish before anything else appears. Spring is the time to stop digging dandelion roots and let the leaves grow. Use them raw or cooked, plain or fancy. Dandelion blossoms are edible, too. Lambsquarter is young and tender, wild lettuce and mustards are waking up. Learn what they look like and try them out this spring.

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In late spring, watch for maple “helicopters,” those whirly seed bearing things. They are not only edible, but delicious when young and tender. Look for more edible trees in your area.
Chicken eggs are not the only edible eggs. If you observe birds nesting and can get to the nest the first or at least the second day, the eggs will be perfectly edible. Scramble, boil, fry or use them to leaven bread. Also look for duck and goose eggs in the spring. Larger eggs will go farther, of course, but may be harder to find.

Summer:

This is nature in all its glory. You may see purslane, mallow and more to go along with the rest. Dandelion leaves will be bitter now, so best leave them alone until fall, when you can dig roots again. Check out your local flora because there is a lot growing, from wild fruits to greens. Avoid digging roots of any kind in the summer so plants can produce above ground. Almost every area has wild fruit of some kind.

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Wild Blackberry grow abundantly in some areas.

Hunting is not usually done in the dead of summer for a couple of reasons. First, animals are raising their young then and if you kill the mother, the babies will die, too. Secondly, disease is more common in the summer and eating a diseased animal can be deadly. If you stick to fish and eggs when you can find them, you’ll be much safer.

Fall:

Fall is harvest time in wild nature as well as in your backyard garden. Everything that didn’t mature during the summer is maturing now. Here’s the flour for the bread mentioned above. Lambs-quarter seed will ripen slowly. Dock will have already seeded out. Other wild grains will be there if you look for them. Now is the time to do your homework so you’ll know what they look like. Gather them in abundance if you can, then winnow and grind them (with two stones if you must). Using birds eggs for leavening and adding some hulled wild sunflower seed can make bread that is so satisfying you may not need anything else.

You can start digging dandelion and other roots now, too. Fall is a time of real abundance in a way that summer can’t be. It can provide boiled roots, baked bread, and still enough fresh food for a salad or pot of greens. If you are out there in the fall, prepare like our ancestors did and gather a lot more than you think you will need. If you’re there through the winter, you’ll be glad for the variety.

Sure, you won’t be the only one out there looking for food, but if you’re smart, you will know more than most about which wild plants are edible and how and when to use them, and you’ll have enough experience in fishing and hunting so the thought doesn’t scare you.

Food is critical to survival; carrying it on your back is not.

  Let’s face it, food can be heavy and bulky, even if it’s MREs or dehydrated. Other things may take precedence, like equipment and medicine for someone with special needs, or

If you are looking into becoming more self-sufficient, one of the first places you can begin to impact your reliance on our modern systems is in how you get the food you eat. Most of us get our daily bread from the grocery store which as we have pointed out before, works pretty darn well if the grocery store is full of food, you can afford to pay for that food and you can get to the store. Fortunately for us, that is usually the case.

Convenience is a great thing, but we are reliant on a lot of systems for that convenience to work. Take some of those systems away and you could have problems. If there is a disruption in the supply chain, stores might not be restocked. If there are conditions that prevent you from getting out of your house like road closures due to flooding or ice you may not even be able to make it to the store. If you lose your job, you might not be able to afford to purchase food for your family.

I realize that while the world is still spinning that most of us reading these words don’t have to worry about that, but those are real examples of how your dependence solely on that grocery store could leave you in a pinch. Preppers can mitigate some of the inherent risks with the traditional model of food acquisition and availability by raising their own food. Gardens are normally the first thing that springs to mind, but smaller livestock make great additions as well as sources of protein.

Once you have a good garden going, people tend to look at chickens and rabbits to fill the holes in their food plans. Chickens are excellent for meat and their egg laying production and rabbits are prolific breeders. Both are relatively low-maintenance animals and can give you quite a considerable return on your investment and provide you with a source of food that isn’t dependent on you getting to the grocery store down the road.

If you are new to raising chickens or still considering trying this out on your homestead, one aspect of raising chickens that you should be aware of is that chickens produce fewer eggs in the winter. If you are counting on eggs for your diet, this could be alarming and several people have asked why chickens stop laying eggs in the first place.

chickensinwinter

Why do chickens stop laying eggs?

There are really a few reasons why chickens could be less dependable at any time of year but I will go over a few of the more common reasons below.

  • Shorter days = Less light – Chickens rely on their endocrine system to send hormones out that tell them to lay eggs. The endocrine system in chickens is affected by many things, but sunlight is one of them and when there is less daylight, chickens can lay fewer eggs.
  • Improper Nutrition – Just like any other animal a chicken needs a good balanced diet in order to produce eggs. The better her nutrition, the better her health, egg production and even the quality of the eggs.
  • Broodiness – Broody chickens are doing what comes natural really and they are trying to hatch the eggs that they and other chickens have laid. If you let a bunch of eggs collect, they may try to sit on them in order to hatch these eggs. When they are doing this, they are not laying additional eggs. This is pretty easy to remedy by removing the eggs at least once per day.
  • Age – Chickens, like women are born with all of the eggs they will ever lay. Not necessarily in “Grade A Large” sizes thankfully, but 2-3 years is a good guideline for many breeds. Once they have passed that age, or their eggs are all gone more precisely, they will no longer lay. We usually purchase a few each year to replenish the supply and sometimes if you purchase the same types older chickens can be mixed in with the newer. I am still trying to figure out if I want to cull the old before getting new. That would tend to fix some acclimation problems as well as keep me from purchasing food for birds that aren’t giving back so to speak, but there is the moral side of the argument that says I should take care of them because they took care of me. I guess it depends on how hungry I get…
  • Disease – There are many diseases that can affect egg laying in chickens. If you suspect any of your chickens is sick, it is best to consult a local veterinarian that specializes in poultry.

redcooplight

Shedding a little light on the issue of fewer eggs in the winter.

Is there any way to help your chickens lay more eggs in winter?

Many of the reasons why chickens stop laying eggs are going to be out of your control, but you can cheat Mother Nature in one area. Daylight.

Simply putting a light bulb in your chickens coop in the winter time will mimic the longer days of summer and tell their endocrine systems to produce eggs on the usual schedule. If you are going to do this, I would keep the light on a timer though so it doesn’t stay on 24 hours a day. The amount of daylight they should receive shouldn’t be longer than a long summer day and will still give you their fullest egg production. Leaving the light on around the clock would seem to cheat them out of a little rest.

If you are installing a light in a chicken coop you need to be aware of potential fire hazards. I keep pine flake for the bedding in my coop and I know that wouldn’t react well to a hot bulb. The bulb should be mounted high enough so the chickens can’t burn themselves on it obviously. I would also protect the bulb with some wire mesh just to be safe.

You can add a heat lamp in there if your climate warrants the additional protection. I put a heat lamp on my water, but not in the coop and they seem to do fine. There are studies that say the red light puts chickens in a more relaxed and chilled out mood if you can believe that, but a normal white/yellow light should be just fine also.

What chicken tips do you have? Do you light up the coop or is it dark for your girls in the winter?

If you are looking into becoming more self-sufficient, one of the first places you can begin to impact your reliance on our modern systems is in how you get the

The events in the Ukraine were surprising on one level and some of the uprising has even been forgotten I think with the even more recent news of the Russian’s annexing Crimea. One of the more interesting aspects to me of this historical event were the protests and how civilians, armed mostly with homemade weapons poured into Maidan Square to battle the Ukrainian army and brought about the eventual overthrow of President Yanukovych.

Homemade weapons have a very important place in history and as we see today, our current world has not overlooked this concept. When you have no weapons, no armored vehicles, no tanks you can still fight. Take away a rifle and you can still smash someone’s head in with a pipe. Take away a pipe and you can kill someone with a stone. The homemade weapons that the Ukrainians came up with were documented by photographer Tom Jamison. His images of the protestors holding their improvised weapons against a black background are very interesting. His photos initially appeared on Wired but paint a more visceral picture of the conflict. When times get so tough that you are grabbing anything you can get your hands on and modifying it to do serious damage you know that this aint no ordinary protest.

Someone commented on another blog about the protests that they didn’t see anyone sitting around Ala Occupy Wall Street playing the drums. I do remember some violence, but if you are looking to overthrow a government, expect to get a little bloody. The weapons below show the kind of resolve and ingenuity some of the protestors had. I know I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of any of these weapons.

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I don’t know what was bolted on to the end of this, but those spikes would make this club deadly if it contacted with your head.

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Not sure how much Peace this club saw, but I like the sentiment.

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How many of us had something similar when we were kids. A slingshot can be deadly accurate.

icehook

Sometimes the easiest weapons are the things lying around the house. This ice axe is already made to do serious damage even far away from any glacier.

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A steel baton with a modified grip. This would allow the owner to deflect the blows of the army clubs and protect his arms.

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I call this the medieval caveman club. The nails were surely responsible for removing the flesh of anyone who was unlucky enough to come in contact with this weapon.

The video below is from NonLeathalByChoice’s You Tube Channel and it shows how to make a homemade crossbow. This is also something that could come in handy should you need to improvise weapons due to a confiscation or if you find yourself in a situation where a big club with nails gets you too close to the action.

The events in the Ukraine were surprising on one level and some of the uprising has even been forgotten I think with the even more recent news of the Russian’s

 

One Month after SHTF; Are you Psychologically Prepared?

Psychological preparedness is a radically important part of survivalism and might possibly be the determining factor for long-term survival. In fact, the first step toward getting prepared is making a conscious affirmation to develop a will to live. I am writing this article because I suspect that most people probably have no idea where or how to begin psychological preparation for SHTF. One can only wonder about the psychological well-being of most Americans given the statistics of Americans on antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, mood altering drugs, etc. We live in an isolated world where people mentally escape into social media, television and Pokemon-go.

I developed a five step mental practice for psychological preparedness for SHTF. When or if certain horrifying events unfold, I plan to not be completely shocked but to quickly move into acceptance and action. I have already considered this scenario and planned as best I could in advance. I feel psychologically prepared because I faced these scenarios in my mind already, and overcame. I visualize myself going through possible emotionally unsettling events in SHTF and plan my emotional response. I also gather possible preps or plans that can be done in advance of these horrendous situations. Sometimes my plan is just knowing that I have decided what I would do, could do and absolutely will not do according to my principles. I’ve already considered a moral justification for certain events and plan to not torture myself with guilt should I need to act to defend myself or family.

First, I will explain the five step mental practice for psychological preparation for SHTF. I created this psychological preparation based on my personal experiences and study in philosophy, religions and psychology. Second, I will list 15 emotionally difficult events to process which could possibly happen in SHTF for which I personally psychologically prepare.

Five Step Mental Practice for Psychological Preparedness: Admit, Reflect, Observe, Resolve, Create.

Step One:

Admit the possibility of certain events. You may benefit from focusing on the reality of one particular disturbing event. Break out of your psychological comfort zone and actually ponder a variety of unpleasant, shocking and otherwise disturbing ideas which you may possibly have to face in SHTF. Humans naturally like to avoid ideas which cause pain and discomfort. Our society shames us into believing we are ‘doomers’ or ‘fear-mongers’ if we consider certain ideas. These ideas exist and their materialization are a real possibility. Think to yourself ‘If this happens, I will overcome it. Life is always changing and full of unexpected opportunities. I will prepare to thrive. Sometimes events are horrid but there are also many wonderful events in life. Everything passes eventually. I will go through this and good things are waiting for me in life.’

Step Two:
Reflect specifically on your initial feelings regarding each SHTF event. Notice your mental dialogue. Think of each series of thoughts and each conversation you have with yourself. Perhaps one series of thoughts is nervous and anxious, another is depressed, another is like a planning schedule book making a list of things that need to be done. You are the master of these thoughts and you have the ability to direct these thoughts into a productive plan. You control how much mental energy you want to spend upon each emotion. Think to yourself “I considered this event before it happened which gave me a chance to plan and become strong. I know whom I am; I am a survivor. I acknowledge my fears, anxieties, grief and there is a proper time and appropriate way to express my emotions. People throughout time overcame these events and I too will overcome. I will channel my thoughts and energy into a productive path forward for myself and family.”

Frayed Rope about to Break

I visualize myself going through possible emotionally unsettling events in SHTF and plan my emotional response.

Step Three:
Observe your thought process of grief associated with the difficult SHTF event. SHTF will not only include the death of strangers, neighbors, friends and possibly loved ones but will include other types of loss. Death comes in many forms, such as: the loss of a way of life, the loss of comfort, the loss of normalcy, the loss of dreams for the future, the loss of expectations about the way life is, should or will be., the loss of status, the loss of physical wealth. Psychologists, like Kubler Ross, suggest that humans go through stages of grief and mourning: A. Denial and Isolation, B, Anger, C. Bargaining, D. Depression, E. Acceptance. Observe the series of thoughts you have regarding each of the stages of grief when you consider an emotionally difficult SHTF event. For example, how does this event make me angry? How depressed would I feel if this event were unfolding right now? What are my emotional losses during this event? Think to yourself, “Certain losses in life are very painful but I will use these experiences to become more loving and wise. I will redefine normal, create new dreams and live in the present with hope. There is a time for grief and mourning and a time for joy. Sadness is only present because I have loved and experienced good things, which is a blessing.”

Step Four:
Resolve ANGER over INJUSTICE. Resolve fear. Resolve your line in the sand. Resolve what you will and will not do if desperate. Resolve to be honest with yourself, without judgement. Some things in life are so horrible that they are radically difficult to imagine, endure and accept. The problem of pain and justice has long haunted humanity, reflected in literature, art, myths and historical narratives. Sometimes you don’t understand why certain things happen or what meaning they have. Sometimes you will never understand. Other times you will only understand years later. Some things are disturbing and break your heart. Yet, for every ugly event in life there are plenty of opportunities to choose joy, love, peace and happiness. Think to yourself, “For whatever reason painful and unjust things happen in my life, I hope to find a meaning and lesson from my experiences. I reject being angry at things I cannot change and that are in the past. I will live in the present moment and choose to become happy, to live and to love. I trust that good will eventually overcome and justice will prevail. I will not simply react to events in my life, I will form an intelligent plan of action in my own way, on my own terms.”

Step Five:
Create a thinking method so that you feel empowered and in control. Create a plan. Ultimately, in any SHTF scenario you can only control yourself, if that. Knowing yourself is power. You CAN always choose how you will react to any situation. You can choose how you will feel and change your negative feelings to keep them from hindering your progress. Acting based on your principles and ideas, not simply reacting to stimuli, will help you achieve your goals amid a crisis. Endurance of pain can be used to build psychological strength, if you choose and control your thinking patterns. Think to yourself, “I knew this could happen, I prepared and I will overcome this through my positive actions and emotions which I control. I will create and the goodness I want in my life. I will improve my life and the lives of those around me. I will keep learning and improving for all the days in my life. I will create goals that are attainable and plans to achieve them over time.”

15 emotionally difficult events to process which could possibly happen in SHTF for which I personally psychologically prepare.

Here is my unpleasant list of things which we may encounter in SHTF but often never consider. Most of the apocalyptic genre movies that I have seen fail to adequately include these possibilities. I compiled this list from several sources, including: what I have read historically happens during mass societal unrest when people become desperate, people I have talked to that personally lived through the recent wars in Lebanon and my own imagination about what could logically happen during certain SHTF situations. The 15 ideas on this list most likely happen, or begin to happen, within the first month of SHTF:

1. Suicides. When the lights go out permanently and the food is finished people will lose hope. The realization that life will never be the same will overwhelm many. In the USA depression and suicides are already high, pre-SHTF. Hopelessness will cause mass suicides and people see death as an inevitable option. Simply realizing they don’t have food for their kids or pets will send some people into a suicidal state. I imagine in SHTF after one month there will be a horrifying epidemic of suicides, mass suicides and suicide parties. Walking into your neighbor’s house only to discover all of them dead in their bed will become a common sight. Suicides are contagious and once they start they will spread.

2. Starving people will eat their pets and any pet they find. Desperation will cause some to eat anything that moves. Parents will choose to sacrifice their pet in order to try to prolong the life of their children. As societies declines homeless pets will increase such that gangs of dogs and cats will be an indicator that certain SHTF scenarios may be pending like economic collapse. However, a month into SHTF it will become harder to find homeless pets because they have already ended up on someone’s dinner table. The guilt of eating family pets will drive some to suicide.

3. Bodies will pile up and there will be no local process for burials or clean up after people die. Whomever is left will have to deal with burials, possibly of mass people. The smell of rotting people will be overwhelming. This smell will attract rats, bugs and all kinds of pests. People will have to get together, dig graves and move these bodies with their own hands. People will find themselves having to bury their friends, family and neighbors. The smell of the dead will permeate throughout cities.

 4. Garbage will pile up like never before in the cities. When the toilets no longer work people will not understand that they need to bury their human waste. Garbage collection will cease. The smell of the garbage piles will rival the smell of the corpses. The garbage will explode into bugs and likewise attract a variety of pests. Most importantly to realize, the garbage piles are a serious danger because they will cause sickness. Lack of sanitation will lead to disease epidemics unseen in western society. I’m sure there will be a stage where people will sort though the garbage looking for food and become sick from eating from the garbage.

5. Lice, fleas, rats and pestilence will increase in the warmer climates. The days of controlling pestilence through medicine, bug spray, rodent poison and treatments will be over and a lack of sanitation will attract even more pestilence. With pestilence will come diseases. People will hunt and eat rats.

6. Simple diseases and infections will be fatal. There will be a return of diseases which people are not familiar with in modern society because they had been nearly eliminated. The lack of sanitation will cause all sorts of diseases. Stress weakens the immune system and combined with lack of medicine, lack of good nutrition and poor sanitation people will die more frequently from simple infections that would have been nothing pre-SHTF. People will drink unclean water, eat rotten food, and live in filth as diseases spread like wildfire. I have a creepy fear that in SHTF rats will eat dead bodies and people will eat rats that ate dead bodies plus some will eat dead bodies and a ‘mad cow’ type human disease will become an issue.

7. People will become cannibals. A certain percentage of the population in SHTF will definitely turn on itself and resort to cannibalism because they are starving. People don’t know how to forage for weeds or bugs and especially in cities there will be people who would rather eat their neighbors than die. Maybe some will begin their cannibalism simply because they don’t want to watch their children die. Some people will be so hungry that when they come upon a corpse they will decide to eat it or feed it to their children.

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Some people will simply shut down in the face of overwhelming despair.

8. People will go insane. Mass insanity will be noticeable within the first month of SHTF for a number of reasons. Some people will go insane because they are off their medication. Some people will be insane because their fix of illegal drugs has come to an end. A likely number of drugged out junkies or alcoholics in SHTF will either die from withdrawal or go insane. Some people will simply go insane because they lack the coping skills to deal with life in SHTF. Of course, people who become cannibals will be insane. Some people who witness something horrible like the death of a loved one or find themselves in a violent self-defense situation will just not be able to cope with the reality at hand.

9. Self-Defense will become an issue. Ahead of SHTF you need to prepare yourself for the idea that if someone comes to harm or kill you or your family there could be a time when hiding isn’t enough. How far will you be willing to go to protect yourself and family? When you do what is necessary to maintain your safety you cannot fall apart psychologically.

10. Human slaves. When there are no laws you will encounter a variety of really sinister people who take advantage of SHTF in unexpected ways. If there are no punishments for crimes a certain number of people will act on barbaric and uncivilized urges. I imagine that some people who become cannibals will have a few people they store and use as slaves before they eat them. Also, some perverts will have slaves for sexual exploitation.

11. Sexual exploitation. With no punishments for crime and rising insanity sexual crimes will increase in SHTF. Crimes in general will go up, but I anticipate sexual crimes will be the most intense increase because some people will decide they want to party until they die. Gangs will exploit women of all ages and force them to trade sex for food and supplies. Women will willingly offer themselves for food and supplies as well. A desperate mother with nothing to trade to feed her child will become an easy target for sexual exploitation. Some mothers will sell their own children for food or supplies.

12. Gangs will increase. There will be groups of looters who go from house to house looking for supplies, food and things they wish to steal. Most likely there will be some gangs who don’t understand that once the lights go off they won’t come back so gangs will be stealing completely useless items like televisions and electronics. Some people actually do not prepare for SHTF because they have the mindset that if they are desperate in any way they can always steal what they need and take things by force because of their weapons and numbers in their gang. Some people actually look forward to opportunities to riot, loot and have crime sprees.

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13. Cults and religious extremes. Tragedies tend to make people more religious. A number of people during SHTF will look for religious answers for their experiences. There will be a few people who take this opportunity to gain power through becoming cult leaders. People will be vulnerable to someone who has answers, offers comfort and provides direction. Also, a certain number of people will believe it is the apocalypse and they might tend to believe anyone who has a silver tongue and claims to be Jesus, or some kind of savior. Even pre-SHTF there are cults and people will certain mental problems that cause them to literally believe they are Jesus, Superman or even the Lucifer. Certainly, this sort of experience will increase in SHTF. Unfortunately, there might be some people who believe that God is punishing them and they must repent through sacrificing someone or something. People might form cults where they go around ‘sacrificing’ whomever they deem ‘sinful’ that they think incurred God’s wrath upon humanity.

14. Squatters, displaced and homeless people. When people begin evacuating the city on foot in search of food, supplies or a place to avoid SHTF there will obviously be an increase of squatters. The entire idea of ‘ownership’ of one’s house, food, possessions and land will be under scrutiny by mass numbers of people who think ownership is earned through taking what they want. There will be amazing acts of both ugliness and generosity. On the positive side, racial tensions will most likely dissolve because people will eventually need each other and starvation knows no skin color. For self-defense or other reasons there will be sneaky people who booby trap their house, taint food and set traps for squatters.

15. Emerging systems of justice that are very primitive. After SHTF and during the period of restoration once society slowly begins to restore order there will be a return less tolerant systems of justice. There will be more of an ‘eye for an eye’ way of thinking in society. Small groups will team together and create a strict, enforced code of ethics. People who rape, murder, steal or violate laws will be made a public example of what happens to criminals. Public executions will be common and swift, most likely in the form of hanging. In the worst case scenario, a sinister leader will rise to power.

In conclusion, no one wants to think about, much less actually go through these emotionally disturbing events. These events will never be pleasant but you can assign them value and meaning. Through psychological preparedness, you control the level of horror you will emotionally experience as well as your emotional reactions. You control if, how and when you will react. If you have already contemplated the darker side of SHTF and formulated a mental plan, as well as physical plans, you will definitely feel more in control when the world seemingly spins out of control.

  One Month after SHTF; Are you Psychologically Prepared? Psychological preparedness is a radically important part of survivalism and might possibly be the determining factor for long-term survival. In fact, the first

Preppers and Survivalists are always looking for some good ideas on how to use or re-purpose our preps that we have acquired. One of the more ubiquitous prepping supplies is the lowly five gallon bucket. I found a local salvage company who had a basement full of these for a dollar a bucket and picked up a dozen. The buckets themselves used to have icing in them from the local bakery but since they were in perfect shape and food grade, I grabbed them up thinking I would surely find a good use for them.

We usually talk about storing food in five gallon buckets but there is a whole other world of possibilities out there if you are looking for other uses for this prepper staple. Food grade buckets are a natural fit for food storage because they are tough and you can easily stack them, but if you are looking for other five gallon bucket ideas, I pulled five here to share with you. When food is taken care of these five gallon bucket ideas could help you out if the grid goes down, or you just have some spare time and are looking for a crafty way to re-purpose some buckets you have.

Five Gallon Bucket Toilet

Yes, it isn’t the most glamorous way to reuse your five gallon bucket, but it is simple and takes one element out of your Sanitation and Hygiene list and makes grid down visits to the throne room much better, cleaner and even safer than squatting in the back yard.

Using a five gallon bucket for a toilet requires just a couple of items and can provide you with alternate sanitation capacity that even the wife and kids shouldn’t complain about too much. Personally, I would much rather use a five gallon bucket inside on a cold winter’s day that walk out and squat over a hole in the snow.

5gallonbuckettoilet

Eliminate the worry of having to go #2 with this simple makeshift toilet.

Don’t want to build your own, you can buy this handy item all ready for your bum.

This toilet idea is super easy and only requires the following:

  • Five Gallon Bucket
  • Trash Bag – These don’t have to be heavy-duty yard size because you are only going to want so many poops in here before you clean it out. Also, too much poop could rip the bag and that is a mess I don’t want to clean up. Ever.
  • Toilet Paper for obvious reasons, but an old phone book works in a pinch (no pun intended).
  • Pool Noodle – Brilliant use of something that probably won’t get much use in a grid down scenario. Pipe insulation could work in the same capacity.
  • Quick Lime or even cat litter to keep the smell and flies away.

If you aren’t feeling crafty, you can purchase a pre-made Luggable Loo that is set up and ready to go. This is one survival supply you can fill with some toilet paper and maybe some Double Doodie bags and be all set for the next plumbing disaster.

Five Gallon Bucket Air Conditioner

There are two ways I have seen to use a five gallon bucket to cool you off and both require electricity but use different methods of chilling the air. There are evaporative coolers that rely on the evaporation of water to cool. These are also called swamp coolers and the video below shows how you can make one of these yourself with just a few simple supplies in the comfort of your very own living room.

The other method I have seen requires ice, but allows you to blow the cold air from the ice into your space to cool you down and an insulated cooler keeps the ice colder longer and what do you know but the same guy who made the video above shows this alternate method for a five gallon air conditioner.

Five Gallon Bucket Water Filter

Having clean water is crucial for health at any time but contaminated water is a larger problem during disasters or when there is no clean source available. Now we simply turn on our taps to get fairly clean drinking water but what if the pipes burst or you are unable to drink the tap water? Having a backup water filter that you can use to make local sources of water safe to drink is vital to your prepping plans.

5gallonwaterfiltertop

View of the Berkey filter elements installed in the bottom of the upper bucket.

Some people (myself included) purchase larger systems to filter water for many people. I have the Big Berkey Light which is an amazing water filter. It can handle 2.75 gallons of water at a time and there isn’t any work for you to do besides pour your water that needs to be treated into the top chamber and let gravity do the rest. But if you have a little time on your hands and some five gallon buckets, you can build a DIY Berkey filter and save yourself some money.

5gallonwaterfilterbottom

The top bucket sits on the lid of the bottom bucket and the filtered water drains down via gravity.

The Berkey Water Filter relies on two filtration elements that you can purchase separately for about $100. The complete Berkey Light Water Filter set up is $231 so you can save yourself a good bit of money with this five gallon bucket idea. You simply drill holes for the filter elements in the bottom of one five gallon bucket. Then drill two holes to allow water to drip into the lower bucket. You drill these holes in the lid so the upper bucket has a place to sit. The only other thing you need is the plastic spigot to pour your fresh clean water out of the bottom chamber.

Five Gallon Bucket Mouse Trap

Rats and mice carry disease even during the good times. For a great mouse trap, you can check out this tutorial below for a simple five gallon bucket mouse trap idea that will quickly and easily catch all the mice you need. With the mice eliminated, you won’t have to worry so much about them spreading disease to your family.

In a worst case scenario, you have dinner.

Five Gallon Bucket Chicken Waterer

When we got chickens ourselves, one of my daily chores was to go out there and fill their water up. It had to be done daily because we had 8 chickens and they are thirsty girls. As well as needing their water refilled, it was nasty because they would scratch dirt into their water.

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This automatic chicken waterer keeps the water clean and the chickens happy.

Needless to say this got old fast and was really the most labor intensive daily chore as far as the chickens went. Outside of making sure they have food and water, chickens are a breeze. I set out to find a way to keep them in fresh clean water for a few days minimum and reduce the number of trips I had to make with the hose. That is when I came across this great five gallon bucket chicken waterer idea that I made myself. The bucket is really just the reservoir that feeds a tube with nipples that the chickens peck at until water comes out. It keeps their water clean and gives me several days before I need to refill any water.

The nipples are really inexpensive on Amazon and I have the instructions as well as the complete parts list on our post titled: How to Build an Automatic Watering Tube for Your Chickens.

Hopefully that gives you some ideas for your five gallon buckets but there are tons more, like emergency kits, planters, aquaponic systems and so many more. You can find a lot of other great five gallon bucket ideas at fivegallonideas.com. What other uses have you found?

Preppers and Survivalists are always looking for some good ideas on how to use or re-purpose our preps that we have acquired. One of the more ubiquitous prepping supplies is

This article will try to answer many questions around self-defense for preppers. I have written a fair amount on the subject in other articles, so this will have links to other information for more detailed analysis and opinion. As always, I welcome your comments below.

Why do you need to plan for self-defense?

Many years ago when I started prepping the world wasn’t radically different. We didn’t live in any Nirvana of goodwill and peace, but the idea of preparing to defend your life from bad guys was met with much more resistance than it does now. We would talk about fortifying our homes, purchasing firearms and enrolling in training to hone our skills but frequently you would have someone comment to the effect that we were all paranoid, crazy and disillusioned idiots who saw fear lurking around every corner.

Flash forward to today and there is much less push back when we talk about self-defense. People have seen far too many incidents in the news of violence happening. All over the world we witness mobs going out of control, of riots after natural disasters, incidents with police or even sporting events where innocent people are hurt. The world can be a dangerous place now and I don’t believe a majority of people anymore think it is foolish to consider being prepared to defend your family.

Read More: Top 5 Firearms you need to get your hands on NOW!

What we do have is a lot of argument about the best means, equipment, practices and policies. I won’t be able to debate all of those here, but I will lay out my plans and suggestions below.

What are your self-defense options?

The dictionary defines self-defense as “the act of defending one’s person when physically attacked, as by countering blows or overcoming an assailant”. I believe that each of us has a right to defend ourselves when attacked. No one has a right to take my life that trumps my right to stop them from doing so. The threats faced run the gambit though when we enter the world of prepping. My suggestions will almost exclusively focus on situations where your life is on the line and the imminent threat of deadly violence is what we are talking about.

Psychological Self Defense – Can you talk or bribe someone out of violence against you? Potentially, yes but that requires skill and luck and the right set of circumstances. Assume you are out one evening and a man tries to rob you. Could you talk him out of it by appealing to his humanity or shaming him? Maybe, but I don’t want to risk failing. When it comes to self-defense I want to escalate appropriately to deal with the threat immediately. Some may feel that this is the first level you should try.

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Physical Self-Defense – If talking the bad guy out of hurting you doesn’t work you may still have options. Can you run? Do you want to fight this person? Could you win? Are you sure? Do they have a weapon? Can you overpower them and what if you do? I strongly believe that each of us should as part of a well-balanced approach would be physically fit, mentally sharp and experienced in hand-to-hand combat, but that simply isn’t a reality for many people. Could a strong, fit man take out another strong fit man of approximately the same weight? Sure. Could a small diminutive woman take down a much larger attacker with martial arts? Of course. Is that you?

Read More: How to select the best handgun for home defense.

Physical self-defense in a life threatening situation for me would not be my first option either because I don’t want the bad guy anywhere near me. If I have no other means to defend myself it will come to this, but I wouldn’t use this by default.

Weapons based self-defense – To me, this approach is far superior for more people in more situations than the other two options. For starters, weapons are the great equalizer. A 110 pound female can defend herself with a weapon effectively against a 300 pound man or even two. Could she also go ninja and bring him to his knees? Sure, some could but could you? Firearms with proper instruction, used to defend your life give you great advantages. It goes without saying there are drawbacks too, but as the saying goes. I would rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

What is a balanced approach to self-defense?

Obviously I advocate the responsible use of firearms for self-defense but there are times when I can’t carry a firearm or I simply don’t have one on me. When those scenarios appear, the other two options have to be looked at. Can I talk this person out of violence? Can I run and escape the situation? Can I overpower them with some other inanimate object like a fire extinguisher or baseball bat across the back of their head?

When I started prepping, it was with the vision of a world gone bad. My nightmare scenario was some form of economic collapse that brought horrible times and violence right to my front door. In thinking of that, I purchased several weapons that I thought would help me defend my family and assuming anything along the lines of a full-scale violent uprising happens, I still have those at my disposal.

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Practice, Practice, Practice.

But most of us go through our daily lives without anarchy. We don’t have economic collapse happening now, at least to the scale that we might have imagined it with panic and looting in the streets of our neighborhoods. We go to work, go out to eat and come home, every day. Does that mean we don’t have to worry about self-defense until some cataclysmic event happens?

Will you be prepared to defend your family mentally?

I advocate being prepared for emergencies. For this to happen, you have to be ready now. It isn’t good enough to wait until something bad happens and then start worrying about how you will defend your family. You have to be prepared to defend them now and hope that you never face that situation.

If firearms are your choice of survival weapon, you should purchase them now and get some good training in now in the proper use and function of whatever weapon you choose. Concealed carry permit applications set records every year for the simple reason that people are getting prepared. What for? Who knows but if something happens you don’t want to be that guy headed to Walmart because you are hoping to buy a shotgun only to find they have been completely cleaned out. Take steps now.

I should also mention that none of the above advice means anything unless you are mentally prepared. Violence usually occurs very fast and hesitation can kill you just as quickly as doing nothing. If you aren’t prepared to take a life, you don’t need to purchase a tool designed to do just that. Whatever you decide you will be left with the responsibility of your actions. It is worth thinking about now while you have the luxury of time.

This article will try to answer many questions around self-defense for preppers. I have written a fair amount on the subject in other articles, so this will have links to

As the U.S. government begins scaling back its Food Stamp Program, I wonder how 48 million recipients (almost 1 of every 6 Americans) are being advised to make the transition to reduced or discontinued benefits. Cuts loom ahead, too, for Social Security and other programs.

Is home gardening ever encouraged as a way to offset the escalating cost of, well, just about everything?

Some say it would be cruel to ask people to grow some of their own food as Americans did during the first two world wars. Literature from those eras, however, indicates people felt good about contributing, they saved money, enjoyed better health and had fun gardening with their families and communities.

We can certainly attest to all those rewards. Also, we are assured our food is organic. How did gardens (and clotheslines!) ever become symbols of poverty anyway? We consider them icons of abundance, fitness and good stewardship.

One of my favorite gardening guides is a World War II booklet put out by International Harvester Company that covers everything from cold frames to compost, pest control and root cellars.

“Get at the garden in time. Make a plan for it. Hang it on the wall. Talk about it … Make up your mind when you will plant the different things — then plant them,” the booklet advises.

Now, here’s the part I really like:

“Take care of it; it won’t take care of itself. Anything worth having is worth working for. What isn’t worth working for isn’t worth anything. A good garden will make the home more homelike.”

I found the 80-page booklet among some old cookbooks. It had obviously been referred to many times through the years, and even has a carefully mended front cover. Although the photos are tiny, Page 3 compares a bountiful garden in North Dakota to another where people have lived for years “and still no sign of growing anything to eat.”

“Grow Your Living,” the booklet warns. “It May Not Be Available for You to Buy.”

school-garden

Imagine a garden like this at your school.

When International Harvester composed the booklet, the food stamp program was new, initiated as a temporary benefit that was discontinued two years before the war ended.

EBT snafu

We hope last week’s Electronic Benefit Transfer system debacle in Louisiana does not reveal how people will behave if they fear their benefits might cease or food becomes scarce.

During a two-hour glitch that temporarily disabled EBT card limits in several states, Walmart shoppers in two Louisiana stores filled their carts to overflowing. Some customers reportedly pulled trains of 8 to 10 carts through the store or returned for more free groceries after bringing one load home, according to online reports.

When the system was restored, people abandoned their full carts in store aisles and checkout lines. One Springhill woman walked away from her $700 bill at the checkout as she had only 49 cents on her card.

Meanwhile, we wonder – what were people thinking? Did they fear the system was down for good and they needed to stockpile? (Hoarding food is never a sustainable solution.) Have people become utterly dependent on the system?

End of surpluses

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Stamp Program has been reworked a few times since it was created in May 1939. It was discontinued from 1943 to 1961 “since the conditions that brought the program into being—unmarketable food surpluses and widespread unemployment—no longer existed,” according to the USDA website. So, it is not unthinkable the program could disappear again.

Originally, recipients bought stamps that came in two colors: orange for any food product and blue for surplus. For every dollar of orange stamps bought, the buyer received 50 cents of blue stamps for free, which were exchanged for agricultural surplus items, such as milk, eggs or cheese.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy introduced a food stamp pilot program that no longer included surplus foods. The stamps still were purchased, although the cost was incrementally reduced. The USDA maintained that stamps should continue to be sold so as not to undermine the dignity of recipients. Three years later, Congress made the Food Stamp Program permanent.

 

seeds

seeds

The next major change came in 1977 when food stamps were no longer required to be purchased. The move to stop selling stamps disappointed many who had supported the program as a means to help the poor help themselves, not as a direct government handout.

Food Stamp budget cuts

Last month, the government announced a $4 billion food stamp budget cut that will affect everyone on the program now and for future applicants. It is estimated that at least 1 to 3 million will be cut each consecutive year for the next decade.

FoodStamp.org posted some reconstruction solutions, which includes removing illegal immigrants from the program. Currently, children born to illegal immigrants in the United States are entitled to benefits, as are their illegal alien parents. Is it any wonder we can no longer support this program?

Proposed agricultural solutions include farmers markets, donations and co-ops where recipients work for their food. FoodStamp.org says these solutions “seem barbaric to some progressives and others.”

A few quick online searches revealed little practical preparation ideas for recipients to wean themselves from the program. FoodStamp.org suggests that single, able-bodied participants find work or create a nutrition plan such as vegetarianism or a sustainable and self-reliant food lifestyle.

Another option is to combine vegetables with meat, grains, dairy, or other foods to make them last longer throughout the week. FoodStamp.org goes on to recommend ways to make vegetables more interesting, especially for children, by smothering them in dips and sauces. Or, coat celery sticks with peanut butter and decorate with raisins. Also, exchange recipes with Facebook friends.

Some of this seems silly to me, but is actually more advice than I found on the USDA’s site. To its credit, FoodStamp.org also included a short blog about gardening as a suggestion. The food stamp program now allows recipients to buy seeds. Finally — an idea for sustainability.

Teaching people to grow food

The USDA was not initially keen on promoting home gardening. When First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt planted a vegetable garden on the White House grounds, USDA leaders worried her example would hurt industrial agriculture.

Eventually, however, the government endorsed household and community food plots and supplied gardening literature. The USDA also issued a 20-minute film to promote and train people how to plant victory gardens.

good-garden

Have a good garden.

The call to plant a Victory Garden was answered by nearly 20 million Americans during World War II.  Those backyard plots produced up to 40 percent of all that was consumed. When prosperity resumed, however, many gardens were abandoned.

Today, as food prices continue to climb and more people are unable to feed their households as before, it is time to relearn those skills. As they did in Cuba when their economy collapsed, we should be planting food anywhere we can – on rooftops, in window boxes, along the sidewalk, next to the garage – anywhere there is dirt. Even without soil, a couple big jars of sprouts growing on the kitchen counter are an excellent source of nutrition.

Modern gardening experts such as Marjory Wildcraft and John Jeavons say we don’t need to plow up the whole back 40 to feed our families. Marjory laughs how she made the mistake of tilling an entire acre for her first garden and ended up with an acre of weeds. Instead, she says now, start small – and keep growing.

Perhaps it is time to bring back Victory Gardens.

As the U.S. government begins scaling back its Food Stamp Program, I wonder how 48 million recipients (almost 1 of every 6 Americans) are being advised to make the transition

This article acts as a comprehensive guide to batoning. Be sure to pay close attention to the last two sections (the one on proper batoning technique, and the one on troubleshooting the difficulties of batoning), as these two sections will help you most out in the field.

What is Batoning?

Batoning is a survival and bushcraft technique whereby a sturdy knife is lodged in a piece of wood then struck repeatedly by a baton-like object, a heavy piece of wood for instance, in order to split the wood.

 

Among other purposes, batoning is often used to split logs and other wood to create kindling, to create access to the dry inner portion of a wet log for generating dry tinder, and to produce shingles, slats, or boards.

Advantages of Batoning

In many instances, batoning makes the process of splitting wood far easier than it’s alternative, chopping wood. Batoning requires less effort, takes less time, and results in a much cleaner cut than chopping. Batoning also requires much less experience to master than chopping, as aiming while chopping may be difficult to do at first. Batoning is an extremely handy technique to know when you do not have a chopper lying around, as may be the case if you’ve forgotten to take a chopper camping, for instance.

Disadvantages of Batoning

Under certain conditions, such as in the case of batoning wet logs, batoning can be somewhat difficult. Batoning can also sometimes damage or even break the tool being struck. Thus, some caution must be taken when batoning. To reduce difficulties and knife breakage, proper batoning technique should be used (see the section below on proper batoning technique).

Why Knives Break When Batoning

In most cases, knives break when batoning because they are being batoned at an angle. If they are placed and batoned straight, the knife is far less likely to break. Batoning with the wrong baton (like a rock or brick for instance) will obviously also cause damage to the knife, which is why wood should really be the only thing used as a baton when batoning. If proper batoning technique is used, however, this can all be avoided, or at least mitigated dramatically.

batoning-large-log-with-bokerBoker Plus Vox Rold Knife

Ideal Baton

A piece of wood is the best tool to use for a baton. Rocks, bricks, and other extremely hard objects will work, but they will severely damage the spine of the knife you are using to baton. The best piece of wood to use is a piece of hardwood. If you would like to make a more comfortable batoning tool, say if you’re going to be batoning a lot of wood, shape your piece of wood to look something like a short baseball bat: debark it, and thin out a handle, then shave it down until it is smooth to the grip. The goal is to make a batoning tool with a wider hitting surface, and a thinner handle surface.

Ideal Batoning Knife

Batoning can be done with nearly any fixed blade knife, so long as the blade is strong enough to be able to stand repeated batoning. Knives with full tangs (where the metal from the knife extends past the blade and through the entire handle) are stronger and because of that will work better for batoning, as they are less likely to be damaged or break. The size of the ideal batoning knife depends on the width of the piece of wood you are attempting to go through. The edge of the blade of the batoning knife should be approximately 2-3 inches longer than the diameter of the wood you are trying to baton. That being said, if you’re looking for a single versatile batoning knife to use, you may want to stick to a longer blade. It is obviously possible to baton smaller pieces of wood with a longer blade, although it might be a bit tricky, but you will not be able to baton thicker pieces of wood with a shorter blade. The thickness of the knife’s blade doesn’t make much of a difference in batoning, only the length of the blade matters.

Rigid knife handles will very often create uncomfortable vibrations when struck with a baton, but handles that are completely encased in a synthetic material (like rubber), will normally absorb the shocks reasonably well. Thus, the ideal batoning knife will also have a synthetic material handle. If the knife you intend to use does not have a synthetic material handle, to reduce the felt vibrations, handles can be covered with synthetic material like bicycle inner tube.

proper-batoning-techniqueGerber Bear Grylls Parang Machete

Proper Batoning Technique

When batoning, there are many ways to mitigate damage and potential breakage to your knife. Use these guidelines to attain proper batoning technique:

Center the knife in the middle of the piece of wood you are trying to split.

Place the knife straight down, and not at an angle, when getting ready to baton (this is very important to mitigate damage or breakage to the knife). Hit the center of the knife with the baton until the knife is properly lodged in the wood, then proceed to the next step.

Baton on the blade end of the knife, but do not hit the very tip of the blade when batoning, as the tip of the knife is usually relatively weak and susceptible to breakage. The metal of the knife should protrude from the wood far enough so that you can hit, not the tip, but a part of the spine that is strong enough to take the batoning.

Readjust the knife, correcting the blade orientation by making the knife straight again, if it happens to shift to an angle after having been batoned for some time. Make gentle, corrective taps to the handle end of the knife when batoning whenever the blade begins to stray from it’s original downward alignment. Do not hit the handle as hard as you would hit the blade end of the knife, as the force may cause the knife to break or be damaged, but feel free to make light hits to the handle end when you feel it is appropriate.

Troubleshooting Difficulties with Batoning

Other than using proper batoning technique, the following is a list of adjustments you can make to have an easier time batoning. Try using one or more than one if a particular piece of wood is giving you a hard time.

Baton with the grain of the wood, not against it.

If possible, baton around and not through knots in the wood, as knots create sometimes extreme resistance and can, in certain situations, damage the edge of the knife.

If the log already has a crack, take advantage of it, as mother nature has already done most of the work for you. Align the knife on top of the crack and go through as you would normally.

Move the piece of wood you are trying to baton to rest on the hardest surface you can find. Ideal surfaces include large rocks, a second log, or, in more urban settings, concrete.

Use a more appropriate knife (see the Ideal Batoning Knife section above).

If you simply cannot baton through a particular piece of wood, try batoning a smaller one (in terms of it’s diameter or radus), as batoning becomes easier with thinner pieces of wood.

Hardwood is of course much more difficult to baton through than softwood (like balsa). Adjust expectations accordingly in terms of expansion of energy, and if it doesn’t matter whether you have hardwood or softwood, switch to batoning a softwood instead.

This article acts as a comprehensive guide to batoning. Be sure to pay close attention to the last two sections (the one on proper batoning technique, and the one on

Are you concerned about the way innocent people are being denied guns, and other weapons of personal self-defense while terrorists and criminals run amok?  If so, then you may be interested in Krav Maga, a simple, effective fighting system used by Mossad the Israeli Defense Forces, and others.  If you are looking for key techniques to add to your survival stockpile, Krav Maga has a lot to offer.

Krav Maga is Designed for Self Defense

When Imi Lichtenfeld began developing Krav Maga, he needed something that would work against the fascists who were routinely attacking the Jewish sectors in Czechoslovakia.  Even though he was already a skilled wrestler and boxer, he went on combine elements of Judo and Aikido.   Unlike other martial arts systems that have become more focused on sporting, Krav Maga has remained true to its roots as a series of techniques designed for tactical street fighting and self-defense.

Self Defense Techniques That Can Never Be Outlawed

No matter where you go in the world today, gun control and gun confiscation contribute to terrorism and the overall reduction in safety for innocent people.  Some countries also outlaw knives and are well on their way to outlawing self-defense any way they can.   Since many aspects of Krav Maga do not require weapons other than your own body and mind, it is difficult if not impossible to outlaw the techniques that you master.  That being said, if you are serious about self-defense and enhancing your ability to survive massive social unrest, now is the time to learn Krav Maga. Do not wait for books, videos, and other materials to be taken off the market.

Be Able to Use Just About Anything as a Weapon

Consider a situation where you were able to store away some guns and a good bit of ammo before a major crisis.  Within 5 – 10 years, there is every chance that your guns will be shot out beyond refurbishing and there is very little if any ammo left.  Regardless of the weapons you do or don’t have, personal self-defense against rioters, thugs, and terrorists may still be a major part of your life.

Krav-Maga2

If you are serious about self-defense and enhancing your ability to survive massive social unrest, now is the time to learn Krav Maga.

Knowing Krav Maga gives you a chance to learn from world masters about how to improvise and use weapons to the best advantage.  This includes learning how others might try to disarm you, and how to overcome inherent weaknesses in any weapon that you might try to use.  Even if you only have a pen or a broom, you will learn how to make simple household items and junk into lethal weapons.

Learn How to Disarm any Kind of Attacker

Did you know that many people choose guns for self-defense because they believe they will become invincible?  Are you aware these very same people may overlook knives or other weapons that might be more effective in close quarters because they are afraid of being disarmed?    Nevertheless, a gun is like any other weapon in the sense that it is far more effective in the hands of someone that understands is limitations as well as its advantages.  This includes understanding that every weapon has a weak point, and every carrier is at the mercy of those weaknesses.

When you know how to assess an attacker’s form in relation to the weapon they are using, it becomes much easier to spot the weak points and disarm them.  Krav Maga will teach you precise, but simple techniques that will give you the advantage in any situation.  For example, if you are faced with someone carrying a handgun, you will learn exactly how to approach them and take control of the gun in a matter of seconds.

Situation Awareness and De-escalation Tactics

These days, it seems like there is no shortage of people that see a threat around every corner and under every rock.  Let me be very clear and say “hyper vigilance and paranoia are not the same thing as situational awareness.”  Brandishing a weapon, screaming down the house, and getting into a fight are not “de-escalation tactics”.  You can learn how to handle every situation much better with Krav Maga.  Here are just a few examples:

  • If you must move through a strange area, learn how to do so in a way that projects confidence. Believe it or not, thugs, stalkers, rapists, muggers, and other criminals home in on certain body language signals sent by victims.   When you learn Krav Maga you will learn how to hold your body in an open, aware, alert pose that says you mean business.
  • Unlike many sources that provide information on how to de-escalate an armed shooter situation, talk down someone that is suicidal, or get away from a gang, the skills you will learn in Krav Maga will help you get out of most situations without needing to constantly avoid various locations (within reason), resort to threats, or wind up calling for help.  Typically, you will find that 90 – 95% of all situations that could turn into a nightmare scenario will go far more to your liking and advantage.  If they don’t, you will have more than enough offensive and defensive techniques to get you through the situation.

Krav_Maga1

If you need to do something slowly and carefully, you will have the discipline to do so.

Teaches Vital Communication Skills

Have you ever wondered why snake charmers never get bit, or why some people can approach a snarling dog and never be attacked?  While the psychologies of motivation and aggression can be very complicated, the rules for approaching dangerous situations are actually quite simple.  Krav Maga teaches you communications approaches that can help you buy time, change the direction of the encounter, or do whatever else you need to come out the winner.   Among other things, you will learn:

  • how to control your voice and use power words that convey clearly that you are not about to be a victim
  • How to control your breathing so that you remain calm, focused, and able to respond to the situation with the proper amount of force.  When you control your breathing, you also send a subtle signal that you are confident.  This can also throw off attackers and cause them to hesitate for a few seconds.
  • How to use your eyes and body language to slow down the opening of an attack sequence. Never forget that the person that throws the first punch is usually the winner, and these techniques can buy time, or create enough of a pause to prevent it.

Build a Healthy, Disciplined Outlook on Life

Have you ever been in the thick of rush hour traffic and suddenly realized that you needed to accelerate well beyond your normal comfort zone? Unfortunately, many drivers panic on the thruway because they are afraid of this kind of situation.  These are also the people most inclined to skid, make improper lane entries, and basically cause all kinds of disasters.  As with any other situation where your life may be in danger, only those with a high degree of discipline and self-control will get through it. Simply put, panic is truly your worst enemy in any kind of crisis.  From taking a shower in contaminated water during a hurricane, striking too fast or in the wrong way at an attacker, or making unsafe lane changes; panic can lead to a loss of your own life, or serious injury.

One of the most important things you will with Krav Maga is how to control your stress responses, and also how to keep panic at bay. No matter how bad the situation is, you will always be able to control your mind, emotions, and body so that you can make the best decisions and follow through on them. If you need to do something slowly and carefully, you will have the discipline to do so.  If you need to act quickly and forcefully, you will have the self-control and discipline to find the right time and follow through fully.

Remember that prepping is not just about amassing a stockpile of food, learning to shoot a gun, or figuring out how to live off the land.  Prepping is a way of life that spans every aspect of the individual and his/her interactions with others.  Your emotional, mental, physical, and social balance will all contribute to how well you do before, during, and after a major crisis.  Krav Maga offers a complete system that you can use as a guide and as a reliable source of support no matter what happens to this nation and world.

According to Imi Lichtenfeld, “People respect power, and it comes in many forms.  Krav Maga is power, and people will respect you for knowing it.”  Insofar as your prepping skills development, what have you done to cultivate personal power?  Have you tried Krav Maga or some other system that helps you develop levels of strategy and approach to diverse situations? If so, please feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below.

Are you concerned about the way innocent people are being denied guns, and other weapons of personal self-defense while terrorists and criminals run amok?  If so, then you may be

 

I’m a former Marine M1A1 tank crewman and combat vet, married father of two, and I must sheepishly admit I am brand new to prepping. Before all the readers start closing their browsers thinking Pat is scratching the bottom of the barrel for talent, I should clarify that I’m really only new to the gathering/stockpiling aspect of prepping. For many years I was asleep, but since about 2008 I have become a student of prepping philosophy for reasons which are shared by most. Additionally, I moved to southern Utah from my beloved, economically devastated Detroit for work and became a 911 dispatcher. Both living in the near-waterless desert (very similar to Iraq, honestly) and dealing with the misery and unpreparedness of hundreds of people on a daily basis for the last six years furthered my awakening until I gave in and started investigating that “kooky” prepper information on the web. Slowly yet surely with a growing appreciation for the freedom experienced in the rural, agrarian “Wild West”, I finally woke up. I’m behind the power curve as far as supplies go, but I’m in the race now.

On the surface our question seems to be pretty straight forward to preppers. Those of us who have certain tangible skills or accumulated supplies know their value and are rightfully proud of them and are probably keen to gain more or to teach others. These things help us and those for whom we care to survive or help us to trade to get things to survive. But apart from having a Cuban Missile Crisis-era bomb shelter full of Spam and shotguns as my boss fondly jokes about, what are you really worth in a SHTF scenario? If we perform a little introspection deeper than the perfunctory method usually used by most people, the answers we uncover may surprise us.

How to lose friends and influence people

Try this at the next party you’re at: ask some people why they feel they should be allowed to live. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Not up to the task? Afraid they’re going to launch into a tirade about what sort of maniac would even contemplate the question? That would probably be the normal responses of most people were we to ask them so bluntly. But that’s really what we’re doing when we ask what value someone brings to a survival situation, isn’t it? Sure we sugar coat it in the exciting context of “survival situation”, but what we mean is “why should you be allowed into my plan, to consume my resources, and to pose a security threat to my family?” We all have the “ideal” in our minds of whom we would allow into our group, or with whom we would associate in a TEOWAWKI situation, but have you ever honestly assessed yourself? The question is, after all, what value do you bring? What about your family? Are they just “empty mouths to feed”? Sure, they mean something to you, but what about to a group strapped for food? Is your infant valuable to them or need it be left to die of exposure? Are you overweight? What about being “old” or even just being perceived as old? Why should others gamble on you?

The Great Experiment

About a year ago I started a philosophical game at work when I was having a prepping itch and it involved posing to co-workers the politely framed question, “If the Great Zombocalypse occurs and there’s no way to get home to our families and we had to start a society from scratch, what do you bring to the table?”

The men were quick to tout military and hunting experience, knowledge of local geography and resources (water in the desert is a good thing), and things they’d already done to prepare such as having supplies to share. A couple brought up the idea that they had special leadership qualities that would be useful to the group. When I pressed them further they volunteered the obvious: they could be laborers and take up arms if needed. Some weren’t happy with the idea of tilling fields and manual labor in the sun, but after discussion the realization that “work needs to get done” won the day.

CarryingWater

In a survival situation, everyone should expect to work.

We joked one of the guys with military experience and leadership skills would be our explorer searching for the “Land Route to China” because it would give him purpose while keeping him out of the group’s hair when it came to making decisions as he has a penchant for arguing and over analyzing every little detail. We figured we could give him all the trouble makers to rule and keep him out and about, throw him a little party when he returned, and send him on his way again. Win-Win for everyone. Silliness aside, when it came down to brass tacks I was the only one with a tangible specialized skill – tanning leather and making clothes/shoes/other things from it (thank you medieval re-enactment hobby).

The women, on the other hand, were hesitant to participate. Save for one who said she would be our “horse whisperer” if we caught/stole horses because she was raised on a ranch, most gave non-committal responses like, “I can watch the kids” or “I can cook”. I reminded them only the employees were forming this new society as we could not get back to our old families so there would be no kids to watch and all of us could cook. I stepped it up a notch to get them to do some soul-searching by asking what value as a human being and mouth to feed they thought they had. Some of them said they could scavenge for berries or do the laundry and I countered all the menial tasks could be done by anyone and pressed them to think about any unique skill they possessed. This is southern Utah, surely canning or sewing should be on the list, right?

That’s when one volunteered to be the “baby maker” as she put it. She said she realized in a survival situation people are only good for what they can provide. I asked her how she felt deciding her main use was for sex and she said when it comes down to it it’s no different than how women have acted/been used/had value throughout most of history. She argued men want comforts and stability and women can provide that in return for shelter and food, moving up the social pecking order going for the man she can get who can best provide those things. It was a simple economics transaction. Encouraged, several others were quick to enlist in the “Pleasure Platoon” thinking they’d be spared manual labor being wives or concubines. (Our instant gratification society where money makes problems go away is in for a rude awakening if the grid goes down.)

Human value reaffirmed

Hers was a very stripped-down, bleak view of what was once the human condition and not something I envision folks resorting to unless TEOTWAWKI actually happens or they cast their lot in with one of the wannabe warlord-types of preppers who wants serfs and the associated “perks”. In truth, every group or society will need “worker ants” which shouldn’t carry a negative stigma because not everyone can be the leader, the inventor, or the hero, what have you. Throughout history we have needed and will continue to need many people for the grunt work as most of us already do on a daily basis to continue our survival and there’s nothing wrong with that. So don’t discount yourself because you’re “old”, can’t make a pair of turnshoes, or can’t bring that deer back from a 5 mile hike in rugged terrain. You can stand guard, you can dig a ditch, you can pick beans, you can entertain (there’s a reason minstrels, jesters, and bards were welcome professions when we didn’t have electricity!), and you can teach. In fact, the majority of us will be right there with you and in the best of societies (most likely smaller) the leaders will be taking their turn as well. Remember: many hands make light work.

Will there be tough, life-and-death decisions? There most likely will be, especially at the beginning. Fortunately, we Americans have democratic values which have been exercised daily in small towns everywhere for centuries. I believe these societies (not the urban jungles) will continue relatively unchanged if the grid goes down despite some disparaging the “uselessness” of particular inhabitants. The appeal of normalcy will direct most towards acting like civilized people and once things settle down more people will come out of their bug out locations either due to necessity or desire to be with people again and they will add their uniqueness and skills to the larger group. This is how towns and societies have formed for millennia and I don’t see it changing.

  I’m a former Marine M1A1 tank crewman and combat vet, married father of two, and I must sheepishly admit I am brand new to prepping. Before all the readers start