We’re by no means rich or even moderately well off, but we do believe strongly in living within our means. Granted, we’re probably not as strict on some things as Dave Ramsey would be, but on most financial matters we try to follow what we believe to be the spirit of Dave’s financial ‘school’ of advice. While he teaches specifics that any family who wants to get out of debt and attain to financial freedom should follow, the basic things we have done to get and (for the most part) stay out of debt (except for our house, unfortunately) include some of his and even a few of our own – one of which is… prepping!

Prepping?!?! When most people think about prepping, they probably think about spending gobs of money on doomsday bunkers, 30-year freeze-dried goods, solar panels, and other expensive items. Sure, those are fun and, given a few truckloads of discretionary income, would be great things to purchase; but prepping, ultimately, should be a money saver first. We firmly believe EVERY family, on even the most modest of budgets, should take some basic prepping steps. But today, in case you’ve been considering preparing your family for the inevitable hard times to come but have been holding back for financial reasons, we’d like to explore five ways prepping can actually save your family money over the long haul.

1.) No matter what you buy, buying in bulk is usually less expensive.

This is often true whether you are buying raw ingredients or your favorite canned, frozen, or dried items. While it’s certainly important to check the cost per ounce, buying things in bulk, especially from a wholesale retailer like Sam’s or Cosco, is normally less expensive than buying things one at a time. Furthermore, seasonal, local, fresh vegetables from a co-op or local farmer’s market can often be less expensive than the grocery store (gardening yourself is even cheaper!). This could be the understatement of the century but… preppers like buying things in bulk!

2.) Raw ingredients are usually cheaper and store longer than processed foods.

For our philosophy of prepping and overall wellness, cooking from scratch is a key. It’s less expensive than eating out or even buying processed foods from the store. Basic rule of thumb: the more ‘hands’ (or machines) that touch the food, the most it costs. Even buying that can of soup from the store is much more expensive than making the soup yourself. It’s not as hard as you think, but it does involve a lifestyle change, albeit one that is well worth it. Added bonus – cooking from scratch is healthier. Not only does processed food cost more, but it’s also usually less nutritious.

3.) Prepping allows you to buy almost everything on sale.

Except for fresh items like milk, eggs, fruit, and the like, we rarely buy a food item that’s not on sale. Let’s say you want to make a nice chicken casserole from scratch one night for dinner. Great idea, except you don’t have any chicken in your pantry – so you go to the store, only to find out that the chicken you need isn’t on sale. In fact, it’s marked higher than it normally is! Had you been prepping all along, you wouldn’t have run out of chicken in the first place, and the chicken you have in the pantry would have all been bought on sale. A smart prepper will pretty much clear the shelf when he sees a good deal (score!). After all, who knows when that deal will come around again?

4.) Prepping saves time, and time is money.

See point #3 – how much time, gas, and vehicle wear and tear do those avoidable trips to the grocery store take?

5.) Prepping in this way will help you eat healthier, and eating healthier will save you money in the long run.

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Cooking and eating healthy ingredients from scratch is certainly not something only preppers do, but preppers who practice this will reap the same rewards. A healthier lifestyle = a healthier family = less medical expenses = more money in your pocket! Win-Win-Win-Win!!

It’s a no-brainer – prepping, properly and smartly done, can SAVE the average family money over the long haul. Then, later, maybe there’ll be enough for those doomsday bunkers and solar panels!

We’re by no means rich or even moderately well off, but we do believe strongly in living within our means. Granted, we’re probably not as strict on some things as

There has been some time that has passed since the latest “mass” shooting, although the news yesterday of a recently fired UPS worker killing two of his co-workers and eventually himself, reminds us that life is sometimes deadly. As a prepper as well as a strong advocate of the rights guaranteed by our second amendment, one of the things that I prepare for is a situation where a nut is going around killing innocent people. This could be some terrorist, a mentally deranged person, someone under the influence of psychotropic drugs or like in Alabama, someone with a grudge who simply doesn’t care anymore. You could say all of these types of people have one thing in common regardless of their motivation; they simply want to kill people.

There has and will always be people who want to kill for one reason or another. To deny that is to deny human nature so arguing about methods to make innocent people safer while at the same time preventing them from protecting themselves is to remain willfully ignorant about the reality of this issue. Bad people will always be around in one shape or another and they will endeavor to do bad things no matter what the rules are. Period.

I for one strongly believe that the best way to stop a bad man with a gun is a good guy with a gun. This is exactly what the police do and when they engage some nutcase like this with lethal force, the killers always stop. Usually they kill themselves first, but they do stop killing others in most cases when they are confronted.

This isn’t a debate about guns though or the second amendment, it is a conversation about what I want to share with my children should they find themselves in a situation where some psycho with a gun (or a knife, or an axe, a machete, sharp stick, baseball bat, hedge clippers) is in a location where they are and the psycho starts trying to injure people. This isn’t what you who may be a concealed carry holder are to do in a situation with a psychopath; it is what the unarmed can do to get out of the situation and have a fighting chance at survival.

What do gunshots sound like?

Do your children know what gunshots sound like? Have you ever been outside and heard gunshots from a distance and wondered what was going on? If you live in some areas, gunshots outside are common but they can have completely different meanings depending on where you are. For example, if I was in downtown Chicago and I heard gunshots I would automatically assume someone with a gun was shooting people. Compare that with where I live which is vastly more rural than a big city. To hear gunshots out here probably means that someone is sighting in a new scope or is just practicing with a new handgun they purchased for self-defense.

The important thing is for your children to be able to recognize the sound of a gunshot wherever they are so they will be ready to act should they need to. Even out in the country people can go crazy so that gunshot you hear might mean that you will need to escape shortly. If nothing else, it should be something you pay attention to.

My children have all been to the range with me on multiple occasions and they have fired all of my weapons. They have been to indoor ranges and out in a pasture shooting at cans. They know what the sound of a gun is and this is a crucial point if your children are going to be prepared for this type of situation. It might even be their job to let a grownup know what that sound is. The range is a great place to introduce children to firearms in general but they also get to know the sounds a firearm makes. Even if you don’t like or believe in guns, that exposure could be something that saves their life.

Know your surroundings

This is probably the hardest thing for children to learn to pay attention to unless they are in a very familiar environment but knowing where the exits are and how to get out of a building in more than one way is important. If an active shooter is in the building you are in, do you know how to get out? If the shooter is between you and one exit, do you have a backup or alternate exit to go to? In a life or death scenario (and assuming you aren’t in a high-rise) would you bust out a window and go out that way?

Panic is probably the hardest to overcome in a situation where there is someone shooting people and coming your way, but having some conversations about where they would go and what they would do if faced with certain obstacles helps kids to think about this potential situation before they are faced with it. Just the exercise of talking through what they would do gives kids some perspective they can draw on in a crisis situation. I tell my kids to do whatever it takes to get out of the building. If that means busting a window, I’ll pay for it. If they have to steal a car I will bail them out of jail. Whatever it takes to stay alive and they have to know you are going to back them up when that happens.

Run – Get Out! Hide only as a last resort

As a Dad I would chase my kids around the house. I still do sometimes, but it isn’t anywhere near as fun. My youngest child would always run some distance but when I got close she would hit the ground and curl up waiting for me to tickle her. I would always try to get her to keep running because I would want her to run until she couldn’t run anymore if her life depended on it. I know with me she felt safe “getting caught” but I wanted her to know that wasn’t an option if she was running from a Zombie or a bad guy. We use zombies all the time to discuss end of the world situations because they are more fun to a kid than some of the realities of regular people acting odd.

If my children are anywhere they hear gunshots they are taught to run and get out of the building or location they are in as fast as possible. Like I said above, do whatever it takes to get out and the faster the better. A lot of schools will say go into a classroom, lock the door and turn out the lights. What the?? No, run out of the building so the bad guy won’t be able to break or shoot out the lock and walk in the room and kill everyone hiding under their desk. Even if they don’t break down the door you are trapped inside and they are between you and safety. I even tell my kids to run no matter what their teachers say. If their teacher’s say they are supposed to hide under their desks, I tell them to run out, go away from the shooter and get out of the building. Even DHS, when discussing what to do in an Active Shooter scenario recommends “if there is an accessible escape path, attempt to evacuate the premises”. Just get out.

Cover versus Concealment

Lastly, it is important for your children to know what bullets can do and what is necessary to stop them from going through someone. If they are trapped inside, they need to find something that will give them the best chance of surviving if the bullets start flying. That means something with enough mass to stop rounds.

Children think that as long as they are hidden they will be OK and we know that isn’t the case. They have to know what will protect them from bullets and there aren’t many things in an office building, movie theater or school that will do an effective job but you can learn to look for more solid objects. Don’t even bother hiding under a table or a glass trophy case, but those big concrete posts in the lobby will work. Forget about hiding under the teacher’s desk, but the large bookshelves in the library could offer protection. Large appliances in the back of the cafeteria will work better than stainless steel serving dollies. The next time you are out anywhere ask your child what they could hide behind that would stop a bullet and see what they say.

To illustrate the damage of a bullet you can also go back to the range and take a watermelon or better yet a large phone book with you. Have your child stab the phone book with a knife really hard to see what happens. Most children will barely be able to penetrate the surface of a phone book with a knife. Then set the phone book up and shoot it with any pistol you have and show them the hole in the back. This will impress upon them the damage that bullets can make and why it is so important to get behind something very sturdy if they have no place to run.

Hopefully none of our children or any children will ever have to face a situation in which an active shooter is attacking people where they are. My hope is that if that happens I am with them. If I am not with them, I hope they will do everything they can to get out of there before they are harmed. Do your children know what to do?

There has been some time that has passed since the latest “mass” shooting, although the news yesterday of a recently fired UPS worker killing two of his co-workers and eventually

Each day it seems we are greeted by another plan for government surveillance, under the guise of national security of course, in order to access our private information. Government, we are told must be able to see everything at any time on anyone and nothing seems to be off-limits anymore. It got me thinking; could we be faced with a potential future where the meaning of the word “privacy” will be understood as differently as the word “Gay” used to be? In its original context, Gay used to mean happy, merry, in good spirits and lively. Actually it still does, but nobody uses the word gay in the context of happy anymore. Over the years, that word’s meaning in the social context has changed and now Gay is inextricably tied to a different meaning entirely.  Privacy, it seems is headed for a similar fate and I wonder how long will it be before the meaning of privacy in our common understanding is completely different from what it is now. When do we reach the point where the word is so far from its original intent that we don’t recognize it anymore?

Governments used to have restrictions placed on what they could do. Actually, the Constitution was the defining document for our country that was created to do precisely that. There was such a thing as probable cause which would lead to a warrant for information. You had some level of privacy, meaning that you could keep your affairs to yourself to a large degree. What you did with your life, in your house was your own business. If the authorities felt you had committed a crime, they would have to prove justification and provide evidence to a judge who might issue a warrant. Even if you were arrested, laws prevented you from being dealt with in a manner that was inconsistent with the constitution. You had to have your rights read to you and the police couldn’t search your property without a warrant. They couldn’t detain you for a very long time without pressing charges and what you did in your own life was generally off limits unless a very clear path of information and procedure was followed.

But, that was the old meaning of privacy. The new privacy means something else entirely. The new meaning of privacy might as well mean happy and light-hearted because there is no real vestige of the original meaning left. We could start find ourselves saying  “Hey, did you go to Joan’s pool party last weekend? It was so fun and privacy.”

Privacy means freedom from observation but with each day that is more and more impossible to achieve. The latest example shows how the government will be scouring your Twitter and Facebook accounts when they audit you. The IRS, not content to take money at gunpoint away from us now want to make sure we don’t complain about this on social media?



You could make the case that perhaps you shouldn’t be on sites like Facebook and Twitter if you don’t want the government watching you. This goes against all of the concepts of good OPSEC, I completely agree. However, I think this is different. This is government once again saying. We don’t really give a crap what you don’t want us to know.

So, effectively all privacy is dead with respect to the government. You may be able to keep parts of your life secret from your neighbor, but Big Sis is going to know. You aren’t safe from the government knowing what you are doing unless you are living on a remote deserted island in a hut with no running water or electricity with zero outside contacts to the rest of the world. Oh, I forgot, they will just fly a drone over your head to watch you if that is the case. If you are really sketchy, boom! Nice knowing you.

If we have truly come to the point, where we can no longer have any privacy, what does that mean? What follows logically from a scenario where the government knows every single piece of information about you under the auspices of National Security? Logic would state that they would use that information to begin to control behavior. We see strains of this with the If you see something, do something campaign. Using propaganda, they will make everyone afraid and distrusting of their neighbors.  After they have behavior modification started (and it already has, let’s face it) they can use this behemoth they have created to crack down on dissent. The “threats” will be found through their affiliations and what they say and how they vote, and what beer they buy and what books they read. Knowing all of this, what is a liberty minded person to do?

Should we unplug from the internet, throw our laptops and smart phones in the trash and hide? Should we cower in fear hoping that the day never comes when they knock on the door? Should we stifle any voice of resistance we have out of the fear that Big Brother will know? I don’t think so, besides they already do know everything about you. Privacy is dead, get used to it. They want us to separate, to hide. They want us unorganized and fearful of being caught speaking our mind. They want us to question everything before we do it.

My philosophy now is that they are going to do what they want and we are just about powerless at this time to stop them with current political and legal methods. A momentum has been building and we are on a path to an inevitable collision it seems. Is this by design? That is for another post but I have my opinions. I don’t know what it will look like or how it will happen, but I do know that we won’t ever turn from the path we are headed down without some massive event. I am preparing for an unknown future not knowing what to expect. The only thing I know is that I don’t plan on going out without a fight.

Each day it seems we are greeted by another plan for government surveillance, under the guise of national security of course, in order to access our private information. Government, we

Is it not already too late if one waits until one is thirsty to begin digging a well?

— Chinese Proverb

When you mention “self-reliance,” it tends to conjure up images of an off-grid homestead on 10 to 20 acres, growing most (if not all) your own food, drinking pure water from your own well, and having a great place to hunker down while weathering the coming storms as the world goes through trying times. However wonderful this image of self-reliance may be, and much as it may be a terrific goal to strive for, for one reason or another it is probably out of reach for many of us.

If you are one of those that has made this vision a reality for themselves and family, that is terrific. However, if your job, finances, family commitments, etc., have thwarted or delayed your dreams for this kind of total self-reliance, you don’t have to wait until you can afford that 20 acre parcel. You can start working where you are now to build and nurture self-reliant living skills that are sure to provide you with more peace of mind and improved health, and will most likely be of great personal benefit during the coming decades of global challenge and change.

There are a number of obviously valuable self-reliant skills and tools one might develop, such as growing a vegetable garden or installing a renewable energy system on your home or business. But there are also many other less obvious ways in which you can develop and nurture your self-reliant skills. A good place to start is by learning how to fix things yourself, rather than simply throw them away. When I was a child in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, pretty much everything we used and consumed in our daily life were still made in America, and almost all of that was made to be repaired, not just thrown away. When an item is manufactured, far greater inputs in the form of energy and raw materials go into making most items than meets the eye, and far more waste is generated in manufacturing and refining these raw materials than just that item sitting in front of you. For example, according to a UN University study, 1.8 tons of raw materials are used to manufacture the average PC, and most of these materials are dumped somewhere as waste. So, when you repair an item rather than throwing it “away,” you are reducing your consumption and ecological footprint on the planet. It often seems hardly worth your time to sew a split seam on an item of clothing, upgrade a computer, or repair an appliance, but fixing something yourself, or spending a few bucks for someone else to fix it, is one more way of Doing the Right Thing.

Another area of self-reliance that most of us can easily incorporate into our daily life, and improve upon, is taking responsibility for our own health and healing. Rather than waiting for our health to degenerate, then running to the doctor for drugs and procedures to fix the problem, we can develop our natural and alternative healing repertoire of tools and techniques while working in parallel on a building a lifestyle based upon healthy whole fresh organic foods, exercise, and cleansing routines (such as fasting) to help insure that we will have the strength, stamina, and balanced health to be self-reliant when we need it. In today’s world of nearly instantaneous jet travel from all corners of the world, combined with the gross overuse of antibiotics among the general population as well as the animals grown in modern factory farms, the risk may be greater than ever for global pandemic due to emerging viruses or antibiotic resistant super bugs. Building a repertoire of alternative healing skills and herbal remedies may very well someday save your life or the life of your loved ones.

A third area of self-reliance that is rather inexpensive and simple to develop is the field of disaster prep and emergency preparedness. In many ways, emergency preparedness is like car insurance. No one drives down the freeway thinking, “Gee, I think I want to get into a head on collision today!” But if an accident should happen (perhaps someone is talking on their cell phone, runs a red light, and broadsides your car?) you thank God you have insurance to cover the situation. With disaster prep, it is much the same—few of us want a disaster to happen, but if we have put together a simple 72 hour grab-and-run kit, along with a disaster plan (don’t just plan, but practice it too!) then we will be far ahead of the crowd. And if that day should ever come when we need it, you won’t have to risk drinking scummy unfiltered and unsafe ditch water and may well be able to provide help to many others along your path. I also highly recommend you take a first aid and CPR class, if you have not done so already. Luckily I have never had to use my CPR skills, but my fist aid skills have come in handy on numerous occasions!

Another area of self-reliant skills that is relatively easy and fun to develop is your back country skills. There is nothing like backpacking for a weekend (or longer) to quickly teach you which items are critical and which are unnecessary. In many disasters, the luxuries that we take for granted quickly disappear, like automotive transportation, hot and cold running water, and local groceries stores stocked with plentiful provisions. It is at these times that back country skills and the ability to forage for food, while carrying basic supplies and provisions on your back, can make the difference between life and death, or extreme suffering and relative ease/comfort. If you have never camped or backpacked, or have not done so since you were a child, I suggest you take it slow by starting with some easy car camping before attempting an overnight backpacking trip. There is nothing like spending some quality time in the wilderness to rekindle your connection with Mother Earth, building awe and respect for the natural world that surrounds us, and upon which all life depends!

I encourage you to make the development of your of self-reliant skills, tools, and supplies a fun, satisfying, and personally empowering life-long adventure!

“Is it not already too late if one waits until one is thirsty to begin digging a well?” — Chinese Proverb When you mention “self-reliance,” it tends to conjure up images of

Our world is becoming ever more electronic and digitized with each passing day. Every time we turn around, something that we used to have on paper has been turned into an “App”. We don’t even get the big phone books anymore at our house. The big ones doubled as booster seats for a lot of kids growing up. Strong men would rip them in half to prove how awesome they were. Now, it seems the old phone books have turned into smaller and smaller versions as the years pass and I don’t believe the companies that produce them can be making any money anymore. I assume a lot of this had to do with two factors; loss of advertising and the ability to look up numbers online.

Along with the phone books are the big rotary dial phones which evolved into touch-tone, then cordless, now smart phones. I find myself missing the old heavy phones when I have a situation that calls for a great hang-up by slamming down the phone. You simply don’t get the same satisfaction by pressing the “end call” button.

I remember the phone book was always beside or under the phone when I was growing up. Now, they send incredibly small phone books to my house but I never see the big 3 pound behemoths anymore. My wife always throws these phone books in the recycling bin when the time comes each year for the phone book bunny to drop them on our driveway. When I see them, usually as I am taking the bin to the road, I pull them out and hide them away in my office. Why? Spare toilet paper of course because I never use them to look up a number. They have become unnecessary for their purpose and the only real use I can think of for them in my survival preparations is toilet paper or fire starter in case of emergency.

Before I start to sound too much like your uncle and his stories of having to “walk to school 10 miles, uphill both ways” some of you might say that we have it much better now. A quick search on Google, Bing or Siri on your iPhone or Android will help you find any business or telephone number you want and you can easily push a button and dial the number directly. Who wants to worry about getting the book, finding the listing and then dialing the number? The phone book is symbolic of a dying breed and I don’t imagine they will be around much longer; which brings me to the main thrust of this post.

Losing our books

Most of our collective information is already stored online somewhere. Our health information is increasingly digitized and they are trying to mandate this information is shared with a whole host of other agencies. At my dentist office for example, the records of every tooth, cavity and filling are entered into a program and stored somewhere online while I watch from my chair with gauze in my mouth and a bright light in my eyes. How much beef jerky or beer you purchase from the grocery store and the type of golf balls you buy are stored and accessed by those key fobs you carry on your key chain. Bill Gates is trying to have the detailed records of every child’s school history stored online to be shared with others. You don’t even need a printed airline ticket anymore; just have them send you the scan-able bar code to your smart phone. Soon will we even need paper?

Books in general are meeting a similar fate. The direction publishers are going now is digital obviously. If you don’t already own a kindle or a tablet with an app that can read books, you are behind the times.

This trend will continue and eventually, publishers will stop printing paper books entirely except I imagine for luxury or collectors editions – for the people who want or can afford them. Schools are already moving to laptops and tablets for delivering content and even libraries are phasing out the older books in their inventory. In fact, libraries themselves are going to be unnecessary before long if Google has anything to say about it. Google Books Library Project is currently scanning all of the books they can get their hands on. Even now, you can go online to the Google Book site and read 1984 by George Orwell. If we are able one day to read anything on our computers, why would we need a library? In the future, could the public “library” be just a simple building filled with computers sitting on desks? What if Starbucks becomes the new library?

All of this brings me back to the initial problem. If we ever reach a day when we have no printed books and the total knowledge of everything ever written exists only in a database housed at Google, what type of problems could this pose?

“What do you mean, when there are no more books? I have a ton of them in my house”, you say. “They would never get rid of books.” I like a good book as much as the next person. In fact, it was a book that made me think of the subject of this post. In his book, 1984, George Orwell paints a vision of the future, which by the way has become mostly true. In this future, there is a branch of government, similar in scope to the Department of Homeland Security. This department however is called the Ministry of Truth. The Ministry of Truth is not concerned with buying billions of rounds of ammunition; its primary role is propaganda for the government. In this capacity it was sometimes deemed necessary to change the information in the “public” archives.

In a quote from Orwell’s 1984, the main character Winston is describing what happens to people who don’t go along with the system.


Yes, this is fiction from a book that was written in 1949, but isn’t our dependence on electronic records facilitating this same type of potential future?

The Personal Angle

Like I said above, more and more information about you is stored online. Everything from what you buy, to the clothes you wear, websites you frequent, emails you send, images you take and where they are taken. Additionally, your banking information, the bills you pay, travel plans, insurance policies, health information, relatives, people you share interests with are all there waiting for someone to look at. It isn’t just companies like Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple you have to contend with the NSA has been collecting everything that goes on for years.

Imagine if everything that was online about you disappeared one day. What if your bank accounts, DMV records, insurance, mortgage, college loans, emails, photos, music, appointments all vanished. Soon, your finger prints, eye scans and DNA could be used for identification. They already have highly graphic images of your entire body if you have flown and gone through the naked body scanners. Would you be able to prove who you were anymore if “the system” said you weren’t you? Don’t believe something like that is possible? You have passwords on all of your information, you say? Do you remember a virus called Flame?


If computer viruses can do all of this and be created to shut down nuclear reactors, certainly they could go wipe anyone’s credit history and online information, right? Who would want to do something like that? Good question, but that misses the point. The point is, the possibility that yours, anyone’s online information, of which we are amassing more and more of could be vaporized.

The Historical Angle

If all historical record and knowledge is contained in databases housed in government offices or even college campuses, how easy would it be to change or “vaporize” history if the event in question is deemed controversial or damaging to the regime? Don’t like what happened in the past with the pilgrims? Poof! If you don’t like what someone is saying about the latest Supreme Court decision, poof! It can all be vaporized. At the very least, it can be easily changed.

Look at the model of Wikipedia where anyone can create or edit content. They can change what someone else has written, and in some cases a small group of reviewers can decide whether the post is worthy or not of inclusion. It’s very simple if everything is in a database and stored “in the cloud”.

How can I do anything about this?

There are some things we won’t be able to change without a lot of protest and yelling and a ton of wasted cardboard and pithy sayings. Actually, I am starting to believe that we as a society are past the point where protesting will ever bring serious change anymore. Certainly we can change the mind of lower level guppies, but the big fish that are plotting our destiny’s are never anywhere a riot or protest would affect. Riots may break shop windows but the real puppet masters are out of reach. Most of the time.

You can begin making sure that you have your own records.

Make copies of your important documents and store them in a couple of different formats. First, a hard copy in a safe or safe deposit box and then alternate versions on a thumb drive if you have to evacuate your house. Make duplicates for your spouse and children. What documents make sense? Drivers licenses, birth certificates, passports, utility bills, mortgage documents, tax returns, credit card numbers.

Print out your address book and stick it somewhere. Why? Because if you are like me, you hardly know 10 phone numbers anymore. My brain relegated all of that memory to old reruns of the A-team. Phone numbers, in my case are stored in speed dial and forgotten. If you have a backup copy (or two) and stored in a fire safe that would allow you to still call the people you know, providing the phones worked. A copy should also go on that thumb drive I mentioned.

Buy printed books when you are filling your survival library. Don’t rely solely on the massive collection of Army PDF manuals you have downloaded because if you don’t have a computer or electricity what good will they do you? Buy historical curriculum so that if needed you can teach younger people history.

Do you have the best recipes for cooking stored food when the grid goes down in the world pinned to your Pinterest account? What if that disappears? Are all your family photos of your children in every stage of life online? What if Facebook and Picasa disappear? At a bare minimum I would copy all of my photos to a hard-drive with DVD backup to keep my photos.

Just some food for thought, but hopefully you can draw some comparisons in your own lives and how the data we keep and is kept about us could all just vaporize some day.

Our world is becoming ever more electronic and digitized with each passing day. Every time we turn around, something that we used to have on paper has been turned into

This is the fifth in a series for the beginning prepper on how to get started Prepping. In part one of this series we covered defining your priorities and making sure you have a sufficient store of water. The second article covered planning for long-term food storage and selecting the best firearm for self-defense. In the third installment, we dealt with financial security and having appropriate medical supplies to treat basic injuries. The fourth installment begins to discuss backup power options and how your family can be ready with lifesaving power if the grid goes down.

Step 8 – Home Security

The stronger the door, the safer you will be.

So far we have dealt primarily with how to keep you alive from the standpoint of basic human needs. If an emergency situation occurs, you now have a plan to prepare to feed your family and make sure they have water. This outside of other factors will keep them alive.  We also delved into medical supplies for minor injuries that don’t necessarily require a physician’s care and plans for backup power to give you most of the major conveniences of life. At least we should be able to maintain a balance of health with these supplies.

We also got into Firearms in the second article, but this section will deal with the larger threat posed by disaster and that is keeping your home safe. Firearms are certainly a tool we can use, but your home is where most of you will be. This is your castle and there are bad guys out there who might try to take what you have or do harm to you because they don’t have the Rule of Law anymore to stop them. Having a plan for how to make your home as secure as possible is the next step you should prepare for.

Most of us don’t have an underground bunker. We live in subdivisions or cities. Our neighbors, whether we really know them or not are within rock throwing distance from us. Our homes are mostly built with wood or metal frames wrapped in Plywood and covered with siding. These are not castles with stone walls, high towers, a moat filled with starving crocodiles and a long wooden bridge separating us from intruders. Most modern homes can easily be broken into. Even if you don’t have to go through a door, the siding in most common homes can be punched in with a few strikes from a sledge-hammer. We have windows on just about every surface and cheaply made doors. If someone wants to get in, they don’t need a battering ram powered by 50 scruffy Vikings. They only need a little time and some basic tools.

So, knowing all of this, you might be asking yourself “What’s the point”? If your home is so easy to break into, why bother hiding in there and defending it? There are lots of good reasons.

Your home is a castle. It is actually your castle; it’s just that our ideal of castles has changed drastically over the years. Your home is the easiest place to seek shelter. It has most if not all of your supplies and offers familiar surroundings. Your home, whether it is paid for or not is yours and it is worth defending. Your home can keep your family safe from harm in a lot of circumstances and until you are forced to bug out, your home is the best place to be in an emergency.

There are a few relatively simple things you can do to keep your home more secure and keep bad people out or at least significantly delay them from getting in until you are ready for them.

Analyze weaknesses

The two most glaring weaknesses are the doors and windows. Can someone get in by punching a hole in your wall? Of course, but that is not the path of least resistance. In most scenarios, the opportunist is going to be looking for easy ways to get in and get what they want.

If I could have my dream home I would have a door about 6 inches thick mounted on vault hinges with metal plating on the outside. As it is, I don’t even know if my house would hold that door, but there are some tricks you can use to make your door more secure. For starters, a metal door with a metal door frame is much stronger than wood. The frame is only as strong as the screws holding it in though so extra-long screws give you more holding capacity. Your door bolt should be longer than normal as well.

Let’s say that you don’t have the budget to replace your exterior doors with the latest model from Castles R Us, what can you do? There probably isn’t a good way to keep people out of a cheap wooden door or one with decorative glass panels, but you can use as system like Bar-Ricade to give your doors extra rigidity and impact resistance. Another relatively cheap method is to hang cargo netting around the door frame. This will allow someone to enter, but the netting will keep them tripped up long enough for you to get there. Heavy cargo area nets for vehicles have a lot of give so they will spring and cause a good bit of havoc. This isn’t a good solution for every day security, but could save you vital seconds in a collapse type of scenario.

Windows are just about the easiest item to destroy if you are looking to break into someone’s home with a quickness. I think they are second only to large patio doors in terms of overall weakness. There are of course security windows out there, but they are very pricey. An aftermarket option would be security window film. 3M has a line of security window film that you may want to check out. This not only resists break-ins but can keep your windows from caving in heavy winds associated with tornadoes and hurricanes. AND, they can be tinted to keep your home cooler as well.

Even being able to delay people from getting into your home can give you a huge advantage. It might not prevent their intrusion but may just give you the time you need to get there with your trusty firearm and deal with the person.

Step 9 – Hygiene and Sanitation

Fancy Port-A-Potty

This is one of the most talked-about subjects (no seriously) when it comes to a grid-down type of scenario for a couple of reasons. These are really two separate subjects but they are so closely related I through them together. Hygiene is the practice of keeping yourself clean and disease-free. Sanitation is basically the removal of waste so that you can stay in good hygiene. Also known as the toilet paper dilemma.

Everyone has either thought about or heard someone say “Stock up on toilet paper” and this seems like good advice, right? Who hasn’t been in the bathroom after a decent session of perusing the Readers Digest only to discover there is no toilet paper? Talk about a sinking feeling, but is this the end of the world? Certainly not, but TP is one of those things we consider necessities. Like water, this is something that most of us use every day and should be easy to stock up on, but is one of the first things we run low on. You don’t want your last-minute dash to the store to be for Toilet paper but in the bigger scheme of things, having plenty of Charmin is the least of your problems.

In the Pixar movie, Finding Nemo, they said: “All drains lead to the Ocean” and that isn’t quite right. All drains unless you are on septic lead to the water treatment plant. If for some reason, the drains get damaged or clogged or you don’t have any water to flush, the drains go nowhere. You need a plan for dealing with waste removal if this happens to you.

There are a lot of options for alternative toilet facilities from using your existing toilet to digging a cat hole or a slit trench. It all depends on your situation. If you have water to spare and the lines still work, you can use your toilets just as you would normally. All you need is a bucket of water to pour into the bowl and this will flush everything down just like nothing happened. For long term disasters, this may not be feasible and you may be forced to adopt more “natural” methods. Time of year has a great influence on what those methods will be also because not many people love the idea of going into the yard when it’s dark and freezing outside. The simplest method, in my opinion, is to have a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat lid and some small trash bags. Cleanup is easy and you can stay in the comfort of your house.

Shower in a bag.

Hygiene is a little different but you should easily be able to stay clean enough to inhibit bacteria and germs with a few simple preparations. I would not count on just a bottle of hand sanitizer to keep you clean and fresh. Baby wipes are a simple and effective method to clean up that doesn’t require a lot of space to store and the wipes themselves can actually be thrown in the fire when you are done.

Camping showers make a great addition to preps as well as extra soap, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. With just a bit of advanced planning, you can give everyone a method of staying clean and healthy. Getting them to take a shower in the backyard might be a little trickier.

I hope this series was helpful and informative. I haven’t covered everything I know, but I feel these articles would give your average person a lot of great ideas to consider if they are new to prepping. Just covering the bases in these 5 articles could drastically change your ability to come through a lot of emergency situations in much better shape.

This is the fifth in a series for the beginning prepper on how to get started Prepping. In part one of this series we covered defining your priorities and making

This is the fourth in a series for the beginning prepper on how to get started Prepping. In part one of this series we covered defining your priorities and making sure you have a sufficient store of water. The second article covered planning for long term food storage and selecting the best firearm for self-defense. In the third installment, we dealt with financial security and having appropriate medical supplies to treat basic injuries. The fourth installment went a little longer than I anticipated so I will deal with Home Security and Communications in the next one.

Step 7 – Backup Power

As you begin to make preparations for your family, these articles are trying to help you begin to lay out a strategy that deals with preparedness items in a logical order of importance. As I said at the beginning, this assumes you have nothing right now which isn’t always the case. Most people to some extent have pieces of equipment around the house that can be the basis for an emergency survival kit but may not have assembled them before or thought of these disparate pieces as part of a single system. In looking at our priorities, we have addressed the basics of what you need to stay alive (food & water) as well as protect yourself (firearms). After these core items, we began to look at items that can give you an edge; where you don’t necessarily need these to live, but they could be vital in contributing in a good way to your personal survival experience.

Using our hypothetical disaster scenario, you are alive and have plenty of food and water to last you some duration. Power isn’t necessary in most cases, but it sure can make living much easier. In some cases, having power is vitally important to your survival. Diabetics who need insulin, for example, will need to have their medication cooled or else it goes bad quickly. If you are a type one diabetic and aren’t able to get insulin, your health is impacted immediately and death is unfortunately not far away.

Power is necessary for a lot of items in our homes and is a welcome comfort after a survival situation or short-term emergency. Power can help keep the food in your refrigerator fresh longer. This will allow you to eat what you have in the fridge and freezer potentially before dipping into your survival food stores. I have heard tons of stories of people during a long-term power outage having huge block parties where they grill up all of the steaks, chicken, and fish they had stored in their freezers. This at least allows you to get some use out of the food you have and it can be a huge morale booster.

Outside of the obvious requirements to keep your coolers running, there are different needs in the summer as opposed to winter. Actually, in winter, you are often able to let Mother Nature keep the food cold. If you have a chest type freezer, it is better to keep it as stocked as possible. A fully stocked freezer will keep the food colder for a longer period. The mass of frozen food is just expensive blocks of ice and when you don’t have a lot of dead air space in there, the food keeps itself cold for a couple of days minimum depending upon the insulation factor of the freezer obviously. A fully stocked freezer should keep meat safe for up to 72 hours. I haven’t experimented with this personally and hope not to, but the concept is sound.

A key to ensuring this type of time is to keep the freezer closed. Every time you open it, you are letting cold air out and warm air in. Chest freezers are better at keeping the cold air in because it settles to the bottom. Regular upright freezers lose air at the bottom every time you open the door. You can also increase the insulating capacity of your freezer by covering it in heavy blankets after the power goes out. Much more than 72 hours is probably not going to be possible though so you might find yourself hosting one of those block parties if you don’t have any backup power.

The two most common options for backup power are solar panels and generators. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages and a fully well-rounded approach would be to have both. These aren’t the only solutions of course as there are water and wind options, but those are not viable for most people unless you have near perfect conditions so I will focus on the two main sources.


Generators come in a wide variety of styles, power outputs and fuel choices. It isn’t uncommon to see generators fly off the shelves at the first sign of a major storm or immediately after a disaster. I have heard of unscrupulous people buying all of the generators at your local big box store and selling them for 4 times as much on the street to desperate individuals. I am all for capitalism, but you don’t want to be on the receiving end of this entrepreneurial spirit when I really need power.

Whichever generator you have it will need fuel and oil most likely and generators aren’t shy about using both. Their usefulness ends as soon as the fuel runs out and if you don’t have enough oil, the engine could seize so planning for storing fuel has to be considered equally with the decision to purchase a generator.

Your generator will be rated at certain wattage. The higher the wattage, the more devices you can power with your generator, but unless you have installed a huge 14,000 watt home generator you will have to be selective about what you are going to plug-in. Some appliances require extra power to start-up, while others maintain the same power requirements constantly.

To calculate your power needs correctly, you need to know which kind of load you are dealing with. (A load is defined as the device that you are powering.)  There are two kinds of loads, Resistive and Reactive.

Resistive loads are pretty simple:  they require the same amount of power to both start and run the equipment. Many resistive loads are involved in heating or making heat of some kind. Examples of resistive loads include light bulbs, coffee makers and toasters.

Reactive loads contain an electric motor, which requires additional power to start, but significantly less power to run once it gets going. Typically starting power is 3 times the amount of power to run the application.   Examples of reactive loads include refrigerators/freezers, Furnace fans, well pumps, and Air conditioners. Knowing how much power you are going to need is important when choosing your generator wattage and you can easily figure this out by purchasing an inexpensive appliance load tester at your local hardware store.

Unless money is not an issue, I would recommend getting a generator that will power a few devices but not count on your entire house being lit up with running AC in the middle of a summer power outage or winter storm. You should easily be able to run your refrigerator or freezer for a few hours during the day and power several lights, small appliances and charge your cell phones at night with a moderately priced generator. You can tie your generator into your home’s electrical system with a relatively simple kit, but you want to ensure that this is done in a way that doesn’t fry the electric company technician when they are working on your line.

A few other considerations on a generator are noise and safety. For obvious reasons, your generator should be in a well vented area. The engine spits out noxious gas just like your car, so don’t bring it into the house with you. If it is outside, it can be stolen though and this has been a problem in large disasters. You may want to consider having a way to bolt your generator down to a concrete surface. This brings up another issue of safety and that falls into OPSEC.

If you are looking at a total collapse of society, the noise from your generator will be heard from a pretty good distance away. We recently went through a minor power outage of only 4 hours, but when the electricity is off, it gets really quiet. After our power went off, I went outside and quickly heard two of my neighbors’ generators starting up. If you are worried that someone will know you have power, a generator’s noise makes this a less than ideal option.

Solar Power

Awesome Solar Panel set up!

On the other hand, noise is not something you have to worry about with solar power. You also don’t have to worry about storing fuel or oil and unless we really do face TEOTWAWKI (The End of The World As We Know It), the sun will keep on shining every day.

Solar panels have different needs than generators though as the power that is generated from the photovoltaic cells needs to be stored. As well as the solar panels, you will need a bank of batteries. The most commonly recommended batteries are Deep Cycle, lead-acid batteries. These are ideally suited for these applications because of their long, reliable life and low-cost of ownership.

Once you have panels sending power to your batteries you will need an inverter to convert that electricity back to 12V for use in your home. This is what you will plug your appliances into. There are kits you can purchase for about the same cost as a basic generator that have the panels and usually a cheap inverter. The batteries are extra and a good quality inverter is recommended. Also, with solar you have a little more set up than with a generator, but there are loads of advantages.

For starters, unless the sun has been blacked out by us humans hoping to keep the machines from taking over (cheesy Matrix reference) there will always be sunlight. Sure, the sun is supposed to gobble us all up at some point, but I am not worrying about 5 years from now much less 5 million years. This means that you should have an unlimited supply of fuel for your little photovoltaic cells to run on. This is superior to generators for the obvious reason that you can never store enough gasoline to last forever. Sunlight doesn’t usually blow up when it comes in contact with a stray spark either, so it is safer and wont go bad without using fuel additive treatments.

There is no noise to contend with using Solar Power and this helps you in two ways. First, it will prevent people from finding you that you didn’t want coming to dinner. Secondly, it will not be so noisy that you can’t hear what is going on around you. Win Win!

Solar panels and the hardware associated with them can be mounted to a roof which makes them harder, but not impossible to steal. I have seen several applications where the panels are mounted to a pole in the yard. This makes installation easier, but they can just as easily be uninstalled by the bad guys at night while you are sleeping under the soft noise of your fan powered by your batteries.

Solar isn’t perfect though. The panels are all made differently so there are quality issues to be aware of. Also, to be truly efficient, the solar panels need to adjust daily for the suns movement or more precisely, the earth’s movement in relation to the sun. Additionally, the panels need to be very clean or else they do not receive as much light and their power output is reduced. Also, the panels can be damaged by rocks, strong winds, hail or falling branches. Once damaged, there won’t be too many options for repair.

The most perfect scenario in my mind is one in which you have both options. Ideally, a tri-fuel generator that has a natural gas hook-up, with a backup propane tank and one hundred gallons of gas feeding to your daisy-chained battery bank of 20 deep cycle batteries for cloudy days. On sunny days, your 5,250-watt solar panels feeding into the same batteries giving you the best of both worlds. Maybe you can swing this, but most of us can’t.

The reality might be more like a used 4,500-watt generator and 20 gallons of gas with an RV set up 140-watt panel and two batteries. We all have to start somewhere and there isn’t anything wrong with that. Research which options work best for you and then take care of your back-up power needs.

This is the fourth in a series for the beginning prepper on how to get started Prepping. In part one of this series we covered defining your priorities and making

This is the third in a series for the beginning prepper on how to get started Prepping. In part one of this series we covered defining your Priorities and making sure you have a sufficient store of water. The second article covered planning for long term food storage and selecting the best firearm for self defense.

Step 5 – Financial Security

I chose to add financial security as the next most important consideration because unless there is no concept of money or value of goods anymore, you will need some form of currency in which to trade for services or goods. When everything goes south, in almost every scenario, money can still buy you out of a jam so to be dependent on getting your money if it is stored somewhere else is a huge liability. Financial Security used to mean owning stocks and bonds or having T-bills or a really nice 401K or pension fund. Recent events have shown that all of these vehicles are prone to risk and by risk, I mean outright theft. You need to have a plan that falls outside of the norm for society, because if society collapses, you want to have your own source of wealth that you can access regardless of what is going on in the financial markets. I have broken this into three areas.

Emergency Fund – I think everyone needs to have some money that they can get their hands on quickly and no I am not talking about the ATM at the bank down the street. For a wide variety of reasons, you can’t count on banks to either have or be willing to let you access your money anymore.  You only have to look at the dozens of bank failures this year alone, or the recent bank crisis in Cyprus where banks shut down for almost two weeks and no one was allowed to take their money out. As long as your money is in someone else’ hands, they control whether or not you can access it and when. This puts you at the mercy of the holder of your money’s good will. Trust is fine and dandy until one party fails to live up to their promise.

Without going into all of the details of fractional reserves or high volume trading (which I can’t coherently explain anyway), I will simply recommend you have a fairly decent portion of money where you can get access to it whenever you want. I would suggest several thousand dollars if possible. Why this much? You may have to live on this money and nothing else if you are unable to get your money from a bank for weeks. Think of this reserve of cash as your monetary survival kit. If for some reason, the banks are closed but the grocery stores are still open accepting cash, you want to be able to purchase items you need. I know that ideally, you would have everything, but look at this as another layer of protection. Another example where cash might help you is bribing people for access of favors. I know this goes against most peoples morals, but if you can bribe a corrupt official to turn a blind eye instead of throwing you in jail, what will you do?

There are a lot of places you can hide your money but this, as with banks isn’t completely risk free. Even if you have money saved and can access it, our money could be worthless due to an economic collapse and even thousands of dollars won’t be able to buy you a loaf of bread. This is exactly what happened in the Wiemar Republic of Germany after World War I.  Regardless, I personally would rather have the money just in case. If we have an economic collapse, I think the cost of everything will skyrocket first so you may need to pay more for necessities. Having a fairly large supply of cash could come in handy. There are a lot of people who say you should have small bills and change and I think that would be good if you are faced with some type of emergency that happens and our economy is still functioning relatively normal. If the economy goes bust, it may cost several hundreds of dollars for a few gallons of gas. You really never know what could happen, so again, having a supply of cash could help you. The trick is to put his money away in a safe place and not use it for the family vacation to Disney World.

Long Term Hedge against inflation – Assuming you have been paying even 1% attention to the global economic news, the policies of the Federal Reserve, the IMF and its ripple effects in other countries, you may question the security that the experts in our financial system are claiming to have preserved. If you are concerned about an economic collapse, I would seriously suggest you hold some physical gold or silver. The benefits of precious metals are well documented out there and this is not something that can be artificially inflated or deflated with a printing press. Research whether this is a good option for you and if it is, make sure you hold those metals in your hands. Having them stored with another company is just as useless as having money in a bank. If you don’t have it in your hands, they can refuse to give you access to what should be rightfully yours. I really think the days of storing money in mattresses or coffee cans might be making a return on some level.  I don’t suggest this is where you hide money, but having physical possession of your asserts in a liquid form certainly seems safer in a lot of ways now.

Bartering supplies – Assuming there is a giant cataclysm of society where the SHTF in a big way, money even gold might not be depended on but people will still want to trade goods for services. Bartering has been foreseen as what could potentially be the method that people choose to conduct commerce in a future dystopian society. Bartering is not without risks but if you have supplies you can trade others then you will have a form of currency. Ideas for bartering are household cleaning supplies, cigarettes, alcohol, tools, ammunition; pretty much anything that will be of value to those who are just trying to survive. I wouldn’t plan on selling your X-box if there is no power.

I do imagine that eventually in a total collapse, groups will form and bartering will be more common. This is an extremely dark view of society. You can also look at supplies you store to barter as a resource to give away in charity. Some people have suggested small care packages that you can hand out to people who are very down on their luck. For natural disasters, this could be small food, medical and hygiene items. In a end of the world scenario these will be worth just as much as cash to someone.

Step 6 – Medical Supplies

As we begin to prepare our homes and families for surviving after an emergency, whether natural or man-made, wars or famine, a highly important consideration is staying healthy. The biggest threat to health, notwithstanding a plague type of incident is injuries and infections. If emergency services are overwhelmed during a disaster, you may have to be your own first line of defense on medical care as well. Having the supplies you need to treat mild to major injuries could be the difference between life and death.

Humans are incredibly resilient creatures and our bodies have the capacity to heal themselves in a large variety of circumstances. What you need to consider are how you can apply first aid to your family or group in the absence of the family doctor, calls to 911, trips to the emergency room or the local clinic down the street. My first aid supplies are mainly focused on stopping blood loss and treating infection so that any wounds can heal.

I have seen hundreds of first aid kits on the market out there and even own a few myself that claim to have 250 pieces of lifesaving gear. This sounds great until you look deeper and find that 150 of those pieces are band aids and another 25 or so are things like aspirin. While these kits are great for the car or as general use on vacations or to have around the house, these are not something that will do you much good in a total collapse scenario. I do have some of these first aid kits, but they aren’t what I am depending on if all hell breaks loose.

If you look at what soldiers carry into battle, you will get a good indication of two primary threats they are worried about. The IFAK which stands for Improved First Aid Kit or sometimes Individual First Aid Kit is fairly small and each soldier wears one on their gear. The main items are a combat tourniquet and a nasopharyngeal airway tube. The Army knows that the two main killers are loss of blood and not being able to breathe. You will see a couple of bandages in here, but no band aids. No anti-itch cream, no moist towelettes.

Soldiers in the military have the benefit of highly trained medics and a rear area with trauma doctors. In a real emergency you likely won’t have those luxuries. Knowing how to perform basic lifesaving will be a tremendous advantage. If possible, take a wilderness first aid course, advanced CPR or survival first aid. This will give you some training and experience with saving lives. You won’t know how to do surgery, but just getting someone stable, stopping a major blood loss or clearing an airway could save a life.

For the first aid kit, I have two major kits. The first is a wilderness first aid kit that I purchased online. This has more supplies than the basic first aid kits you get for your car, but I augmented this with a field surgery kit, extra bandages, blood clot and blood stopper tourniquets. This is for the house. My other kit is a Combat Lifesaver kit complete with all of the gear and supplies that comes with it. I also added extra blood stoppers, and sutures to this kit but it was pretty stocked already. This was a nice find at a gun show about a year ago. Since we are on that subject, you can usually find tons of first aid gear and supplies at a gun show relatively cheaply. This bag goes with me on any car trips.

Reference materials in the form of medical manuals are also something to get now. You don’t want to rely on a web site to show you how to suture a wound or treat a sucking chest wound when a family member is slowly drowning in their own blood. I also bought a book titled Emergency War Surgery as a reference. This is not something I have memorized by any stretch, but could be used as a reference guide if needed. With these supplies, some training and a little help you should be able to stabilize most blood loss injuries. I would also recommend stocking up on antibiotics. Topical ointments work well for minor skin lacerations, but more serious infections will require real antibiotics.

Some prepping websites advocate the use of fish antibiotics. I don’t doubt this could work well enough to fight infection, but urge you to do your own research on this to decide if this route makes sense for you. There are also a ton of natural remedies so the resource section of your library should include a book on using herbs and flowers to make medicines or treatments for a wide variety of ailments.

Lastly, if you have medications that you need to live, now is the time to stock up. You may have to speak with your doctor regarding a longer prescription but even this will run out if the disaster is wide spread or lengthy.

In Part 4 we will discuss the rest of the basic options which will cover Fuel and Backup Power as well as Home Security.

This is the third in a series for the beginning prepper on how to get started Prepping. In part one of this series we covered defining your Priorities and making

This is the second in a series for the beginning prepper on how to get started Prepping. If you want to read part 1, you can view that article here. In the first article, we covered defining your Priorities and making sure you have a sufficient store of water.

Step 3 – Food Storage

Now that you have water taken care of, the next thing you should take care of is food. Food is the number one thing that most people simply do not have enough of. In the not too distant past, most had their own gardens, canned their own foods, got milk and cheese from the local farmer or dairy if they didn’t raise it themselves and our diet was much different.

Since the advent of bigger cities, grocery stores, refrigeration and processed foods, our knowledge, and dependence upon nature to provide us food has quickly disappeared. The local farms have disappeared as they have been purchased and combined into approximately 5 national conglomerates that provide almost all of the food in grocery stores today. Grocery stores themselves have evolved from local family-run stores to national chains with complex distribution systems and warehouses. Your local grocery store relies on trucks shipping food in every few days to maintain inventory and this system right here is one that is highly prone to disruption.

The average family doesn’t have a 5 day supply of food on hand. We have become accustomed to running to the store to buy what we need for the week or even an individual meal. In the case of a disaster or inclement weather being forecast, the first things to disappear from the grocery shelves are food . This is partly due to panic, but mostly because people simply don’t have enough food to last them comfortably through the duration of whatever event is anticipated.

At the first sign of some impending crisis, the store shelves are wiped out within hours or days. It might start out as simply a trip to get a gallon of milk or some chicken but quickly turns into a full-on buying frenzy as shoppers see the quickly dwindling supplies and the faces of other worried shoppers in the crowded store.

This should not happen to you.

Food is something that you are always going to need and there are several strategies for stocking up on food items that you can use depending on your preference. For most people, the simplest option is to buy more of what you use every day. Groceries aren’t cheap and I hated the idea of spending extra on groceries but I could see the value and benefit in having a stocked pantry.

We started with our normal grocery store run and began to add more of the items we eat a lot of. Items like spaghetti sauce, noodles, canned tuna and chicken, beans, coffee and tea, soups and canned vegetables were something we already ate, so we just added more. The trick is to buy extra food when you go to the store and not simply buy food when you are out of a particular item. If you can add a couple of cans to what you normally purchase, you will start to see the amounts you have increased. You will need to ensure you have some system to rotate your food storage because you don’t want to have a bunch of cans of grossly out of date food when you need it the most.

This book teaches you everything from the soil up. Click on it for details.

Purchasing more store-bought food is great for short-term, but for longer-term preparedness, it is good to supplement with freeze-dried food or dehydrated foods sealed in Mylar bags and stored in heavy-duty food grade buckets. These food items will typically last years and can be your reserve supply of food that you don’t have to worry about rotating as much. There are a lot of suppliers of long term food that you can find out there and if you have the money and would rather purchase your food and forget about it (for a long time) then this may be a good option. I recommend having a balance between the two types of food. Store-bought foods that you already eat everyday and freeze-dried so that you have the most flexibility.

Lastly and I might say, more importantly, you need to plan for self-sufficiency when it comes to your food. If we have some catastrophe that lasts a very long time, you will run out of food. What if the grocery stores are never going to be operable again? What if you have purchased a 2 year supply of freeze-dried food, but the disaster or event lasts longer than two years? What if 20 family members show up to your house and start eating your supplies?

Having a working garden now will be the best thing you can do to augment your store purchases with healthy fresh foods and it will allow you to continue feeding yourself if for some reason we can’t rely on grocery stores in the future. I know this is a very bleak sounding future, but not something that is out of the realm of possibility. It is important to purchase and store heirloom seeds for your garden and learn how to harvest and keep seeds from your vegetables, but it is even more important to start your garden now. Gardening is not goof-proof and it is foolish to believe that you can go into your back yard, dig up some dirt, plant some seeds and feed your family. If this is your plan, they will likely starve before the first fruits are visible.

Healthy soil – healthy plants – healthy you. 

Try your hand at gardening now so you have the area, experience and hopefully crops that will feed your family all year. This will be a fairly decent sized undertaking for a family of 4 people. If you plan to feed a larger family, a garden can’t wait. Gardening takes preparation and tools that you may not be able to acquire if the grid goes down for some reason. If you are worried about the impending disaster, do you think you will remember to run to the hardware store and buy shovels, rakes, and hoes? Do you realize how long certain vegetables take to fully mature so that you can harvest them? What if some disaster happens in the middle of winter? You will not be able to start a garden for several months and you won’t get food out of that garden for many more months. Gardening is not a suitable quick solution to food needs, but it is probably the best long term solution and this should be something you consider if you have a means to create a garden on your property.

If you have the ability, raising your own livestock will give you just one more advantage when it comes to feeding your family. Raising chickens for eggs or rabbits for meat are two of the simplest ways to augment your long-term food supply.

You can read more about how you can stock up 30 days of food for your family in this article.

Step 4 – Firearms for self-defense

So by now, you should have a plan for water and food to last you through most normal emergencies, the next shoe to drop in a SHTF scenario is to plan for security. This is simply common sense to most people and I am often asked what the best gun for home defense is. I surmise this is because people know like I said in the first part, that in a disaster; the rules get thrown out the window quickly and you may be left to defend yourself against looters or people who just want to take advantage of the situation. If you are really prepared with enough survival equipment and disaster supplies to last you through the emergency, chances are that you could become a target for people who did not plan.

Human nature is funny, but it is predictable in a lot of instances. Desperate people do desperate things. A mother who has starving children will do things for their benefit that she never would otherwise. In the same capacity, a father who has a sick or starving family will act with their interests above all else, including his. This can lead to incredibly dangerous encounters and it is a good idea to anticipate these and plan for them.

Having a selection of good firearms and being trained in their use is going to give you a greater ability to defend your family and your possessions in a true collapse or grid-down type of disaster. I think that anyone who does not have a means to defend themselves will eventually become the victim of some form of theft or violence. History is just too full of examples of this type of atrocity happening to otherwise good people. My philosophy in cases like this is to pray for the best and prepare for the worst.

If you don’t have any firearms at all, the current political climate and government meddling may have stirred in you a sense of angst to acquire some means of defending yourself with a firearm. You could be on the other end of the spectrum and believe that all guns should be banned and people should all just “get along”.

There is no real reason for me to try and change the opinion of any true pacifist. I will only say that no law ever stopped a lawbreaker. The only people who won’t carry guns if you make a law are the law-abiding citizens and it is foolish to believe that a law will stop either guns or violence from being tools used by bad people.

For the rest of you out there who want a firearm, I would recommend you read our article on the Best firearm for self-defense and if you have the means, I wouldn’t stop there. Once you have the most basic method of defending yourself, you should expand and our post on the Top 5 firearms you need to get your hands on now offers a pretty good argument for and the specific types of firearms I think each family should optimally have to weather a total societal collapse or a power outage of a few days.

Ammunition is the next important thing to get because without bullets, those firearms you purchased for self-defense will be just about worthless. As of right now, Ammo prices are incredibly high and inventories are low. This makes finding ammo hard because everyone is out there looking to replace and augment what they already have. If you are just starting, I would have no less than 2 boxes of hollow-point ammo for any handguns regardless of the cost. You just have to bite the bullet (no pun intended) and get enough for basic protection. Shotgun ammo is still in relatively good supply so make sure to stock up on shotgun ammo as much as possible. You will probably never regret spending money on guns or ammo if you ever get to the point of needing them for security. You will definitely regret not having anything.

Later on in Part 3 we will discuss the rest of the basic options which will cover Financial Security, Medical Supplies and Fuel for Backup Power.

Here are some other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)

Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)

Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)

Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)

The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)

The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

This is the second in a series for the beginning prepper on how to get started Prepping. If you want to read part 1, you can view that article here.

You can make rope or natural cordage (rope and string) from many different fibers including (Bast) Dogbane, Milkweed, Nettles, Hemp, Flax; (Leaves) Cattail, Yucca, Agave, Douglas Iris; (Bark) Willow, Maple, Basswood, Cedar; (Root) Leather Root, Beach Lupine; (Whole stem) Tule, straw, Juncus. Each material has specific requirements for extracting and preparing the fibers, but there are only two basic ways for using the fibers to make rope or cord: braiding (or plaiting) and twining. Braiding was usually done with flat, split materials such as cattail or flattened straw. The instructions in this article will deal only with twining to make rope, specifically with two ply (S-twist, Z-ply, also called right-handed) natural cordage.

After preparing a bundle of fiber half the thickness of the finished cord, place your hands six to twelve inches apart and about one third of the way from one end. Twisting the fibers clockwise with both hands, wind the bundle tight (making single-ply natural cordage).

Bring your hands closer together and keep twisting. The kink should rotate on its own in a counterclockwise direction. Twist until two or three rotations occur. This is the start of a two-ply cord. At this time you can attach the end to something (or someone) which can rotate (free-end) and keep twisting with both hands turning clockwise OR you can attach the end to something solid (fixed-end) and begin twisting and counter-rotating (see below).

Counter-rotating, one form of finger-twisting, involves each hand applying a clockwise (S) twist into a ply, while passing the right ply over, and the left ply under (counter-clockwise or Z-plying). Your left hand twists ply A clockwise, while your right hand does the same with ply B’. At the same time, you pass ply B over and behind your left thumb and lock it in place with your remaining fingers. You then take A in your right hand and B in your left and repeat, over and over and over again. These two methods are particularly handy to make rope with larger and coarser materials such as cattail and tule.

Finger-twisting finer material to make rope or natural cordage is usually done completely in the hand, with the finished string being wound on a bobbin or netting needle as you go. Your left hand acts to control tension while your right hand does the twisting.

Begin as you did before, then place the Y (the point where the two plys come together) between your left thumb and fore finger. Take the lower of the two ply strands and twist it tightly clockwise until it begins to kink. Lock the twist in by closing your remaining three fingers over the strand. Then, while holding the twisted ply A securely, twist ply B with your right thumb and forefinger. As you twist, you should feel the completed string begin to twist counter-clockwise . Follow this motion with your left thumb and forefinger while maintaining even tension and a symmetrical Y. Next move your left thumb up to the fork in the Y as before and repeat steps 1 and 2 until you need to add more fiber.


If you began your cord off-center, then one side will run out of fiber first. As you get to within about 3 inches of the end of this short ply, prepare another bundle of fibers the same size as you began with, but taper the end of the bundle for about 4 inches. Lay this bundle parallel to the bundle being replaced, and sticking out about an inch beyond the Y.

Continue twisting the cordage as before. You should also add in if one ply be-comes thinner than the other, or if both plies become thinner than they started. In these cases add just enough fiber to bring them back to correct size. Ideally, your cord should stay the same size throughout, although aboriginal cordage did vary about fifty percent in nets. Bow strings and fish lines under heavy pull should be very even. It is also possible to add to both sides at the same time by bending a bundle of fiber in half and placing the Y of the bundle into the V of the Y, but it is harder to keep from making a lump at this point. After your string is finished, you can cut or burn (carefully) off the overlap ends to make your string less fuzzy.

Dry surfaces tend to slip, so you should keep your hands and the fiber damp while you are working. Squeeze out excess water though or your string will be loose when it dries.

Finger-twisting methods are best used to make rope when a relatively small amount is being made and/or has to be very tight and even, and when very stiff or coarse materials are being used, such as cattail or tule. When you want to make rope in mass quantities, it is much faster and easier on the hands to use the leg (thigh) rolling method. The principle is the same, S-twist, Z-ply, but the twist is applied by rolling on the leg, rather than twisting between the thumb and finger. You can continue to work without getting cramps in your hand muscles, and you can (with practice) work faster (about ten feet per hour). The critical element in making this method work is having the right surface on which to roll. Traditionally the bare left thigh is used. If you do not want to expose your skin, or if your legs are hairy, you can use pants, but these should be tight around your leg, so they won’t bunch up as you roll, and they should have a rough enough surface to give traction. Keeping them damp is also critical. I keep a bucket of water next to me while I work.

Roll both plies away from you with the palm of your right hand (pre-roll each separately). Your left hand holds the Y and follows the movement.

Bring the two plies together by moving the left hand forward and back. If the two plies did not get tightly rolled the first time, carefully pick up both plies and repeat step one first.

When the plies are tight and touching, bring the right palm back towards you, counter-rotating the two plies into two-ply cordage.

Before you begin, prepare as much fiber as you will be using during that session. Once you get into the rhythm of the work of making rope or cordage, you won’t want to stop and clean material.

More Information

In addition to the article above, I found a nice little video from SHTFBlog.com that demonstrates how to do this with a cattail leaf.

You can make rope or natural cordage (rope and string) from many different fibers including (Bast) Dogbane, Milkweed, Nettles, Hemp, Flax; (Leaves) Cattail, Yucca, Agave, Douglas Iris; (Bark) Willow, Maple,

As a child I grew up in a house named The Orchard and although the land had long since been sold off several large apple trees remained which gave us a reasonable harvest each year. I have fond memories of the delicious fruit pies and crumbles my mother used to prepare. Growing fruit is one of the most efficient forms of gardening – once the trees are established you can expect an abundant supply for decades with only a little pruning and mulching to keep them happy.

Without doubt, the cheapest way to start a mini-orchard is to buy bare-rooted plants: those sold without a pot and delivered while the weather is still cold and the plants are dormant. As well as saving money, you will often find a much wider selection of varieties and sizes available as bare-rooted trees. Many wonderful types of apples, pears, plums etc can be grown by the home gardener that are never available in supermarkets and the trees can be trained to fit the area you have.

However, bare-rooted trees need to be planted correctly and given careful treatment during the first year in order to establish healthy root systems and give a reliable harvest…


The biggest stresses on a new fruit tree are usually below ground. Getting sufficient water and nutrients in the first few months after planting is essential and that’s why the timing is crucial. The number one priority is helping your new tree establish a healthy root system. The best time to plant bare-rooted trees is towards the end of winter or the first half of spring – once the ground is no longer frozen so it can be easily dug but before new growth starts.

It’s usually worth consulting a tree nursery that know your area and can advise on the window of time when they lift the young plants and deliver them and when conditions are right for your area. In the mild maritime climate where I live, trees can be planted from November onwards and this gives them a few extra weeks for the roots to establish but in harsher areas you’ll want to wait until spring. You will need to plant them quickly once they arrive – usually within a couple of days, though it’s possible to pack the roots with moist earth to extend this period if conditions outside aren’t favourable.

If you miss the ideal window of time for your area but still want to plant this year, it’s worth paying more for container-grown plants. These will already have roots that have grown into the soil around them and as long as you don’t disturb these too much when planting, they’ll be ready to draw up moisture and nutrients during warmer weather.

Location, Location, Location

Fruit trees don’t like to be moved so it is important to get the location right first time. Things to consider are:

  • Sun or Partial Shade: Nearly all fruit trees require plenty of sun but by carefully scouring catalogues you’ll find there are some less well-know varieties that are tolerant of partial shade. Don’t just consider the ground – it’s the leaves that need sun and this often opens up possibilities for otherwise unproductive areas.
  • Soil: Most fruit trees will want free-draining soil, enriched with compost. Avoid areas that regularly flood or higher ground that dries out quickly.
  • Wind and Snow: Be aware of the direction of prevailing wind and any large buildings nearby. A wall or fence may create a sheltered environment perfect for heat-loving fruits, or it could funnel icy winds during winter. Roofs can dump a ton of snow on an unsuspecting tree below, snapping its branches. Observe your garden closely to choose the best spot.
  • Other Plants: Trees are remarkably good at drawing up nutrients and water from the surrounding area. Unless you’re using raised beds, remember that a nearby fruit tree or bush may compete with your other plants.

Planting Tips

Many good fruit-tree suppliers will sell reasonably priced kits that include a stake, tie, mulch mat etc and I think it’s a false economy to skip these items.

Follow these simple steps to give your tree the best start:

  1. Dig a hole about a spade’s depth and around 3ft (1m) wide. Although it’s natural to dig a round hole, a square one is better as it encourages the roots to push out into the surrounding ground. Keep the soil you have removed in a wheelbarrow or on a large plastic sheet.
  2. Add a few inches of good garden compost and work it into the base of the hole using a garden fork. Mixing is important so that the tree’s roots don’t meet a sudden boundary between compost and regular soil. Also, mix some compost into the soil you removed.
  3. Look for the slightly darker ‘watermark’ on the tree’s trunk that indicates where the soil level was when it was first grown. Place the bare-rooted tree in the centre of the hole and a cane across the hole so you can check that this line is level with the soil around your hole as trees shouldn’t be planted deeper or shallower than they were first grown. If necessary, add or remove soil to achieve this. Most fruit trees will be grafted onto a rootstock and the join should always be above ground.
  4. Remove the tree and put in a thick wooden stake a couple of inches from the centre of the hole and on the side where the prevailing wind comes from. Hammer this firmly into the ground using a mallet.
  5. Place the tree back in the hole, position it so the trunk is close to the stake and start to shovel the soil-and-compost mixture back around the roots. Gently firm this in with your boots, being careful not to damage the roots. When it’s half full, pull the tree up an inch and then let it drop again as this helps the soil to fill in around the roots.
  6. Once all the soil has been added and firmed, use the supplied strap to fix the tree to the stake, leaving enough room for the tree trunk to grow but not so much that it wobbles about. Also add a protective tube around the trunk if animals are a problem. At this stage I also sprinkle a little seaweed meal fertilizer around and cover it with a bio-degradable hemp mat to suppress weeds.
  7. Water the soil well to stop the roots drying out and to further settle the soil around them.

The First Year for Fruit Trees

Fruit trees always seem to be such strong, healthy plants that we forget how vulnerable they are when first planted. Yet during the first year, the tree can easily die from not getting enough water or nutrients. Until the root system is at least as large as the tree it supports, it is particularly vulnerable to environmental stress.

During the first year or two, keep the tree well watered, especially during dry weather. A good soaking once or twice a week is much better than surface watering daily, though during very hot weather it can be worth doing both. It’s also vital to keep the area around the tree completely free of weeds and grass as they will compete with the young tree, which is why mulch mats are very effective.

Finally, don’t forget to remove all blossom from the tree in the first year. Although it’s tempting to let some fruit develop, doing so will again place more stress on the tree as it establishes and forgoing the first year’s fruit will result in a much healthier tree and better harvest in years to come.

As a child I grew up in a house named The Orchard and although the land had long since been sold off several large apple trees remained which gave us

Could side effects from food additives, water fluoridation, GMOs, tainted air, and excessive vaccines cause people to become mediocre and lose their critical thinking abilities? Some new technologies could make living a ‘natural’ life challenging in the near future. In fact, according to the Strategic Social Initiative, (2045.com), scientists, technologists, and entrepreneurs support the forming of a ‘new evolutionary strategy’ for humanity. Could this become human evolution?

Up until now, people have been able to freely think, and go about activities of daily life. But what if the activities of daily life get altered as a by-product from the military-industrial complex to a point where thinking or having a natural body, eating real food, or breathing real air, stops? Imagine a robotic world of Frankenstein creations and biological machines, sometimes referred to as ‘trans-humanism’. This is a possible new paradigm for mankind where AI (artificial intelligence), and bionic body parts merge with our biology towards immortality.

Have you heard of biopharmaceuticals? Probably not on mainstream TV. This is a relatively new attempt at introducing medicines, into foods, through farming. There won’t be a need to discuss vaccine safety, or adjuvant cost-saving benefits. This process of genetic farming (not GMO food) has already started, for example with ‘golden’ rice. People could be automatically medicated.

Today we have chemically controlled people, ‘intelligent’ pills, and added body parts, such as hip replacements, etc. But, what if the near, very near future, technology promised more convenience than ever? Chances are, you might buy it. Imagine having just a little chip inserted into your hand or head. You could open your car door from afar, or turn your oven on before getting home for dinner, and even pay your bills. Sounds pretty good. But what could the consequences be?

On vacation, I took some photos of wild geese in a remote lake and when I edited the images, I was dumbfounded to see white plastic collars on their necks with imposing black numbers. These tracking numbers were RFID tags of sorts. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Devices) is the technology that identifies and tracks things, animals and people.

Would you like the tracking of your health, body fluids, power usage, constant whereabouts, your personal thoughts or emotions, money, drinks, and food? It is coming, yes it is. . . unless, we the people, awaken and make some changes.

Already, the US Department of Agriculture demands that ranchers use RFID chips to monitor their livestock. Fusion centers are being built across the USA to store the collected data. Fusion centers? Today fusion centers are tracking billions of emails, conversations, and computer keystrokes per day.

Usually RFID systems consist of a transponder and reader. The reader is generally connected to a computer database. Currently there are beta tests being conducted in some schools, in Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana where people are required to wear chipped identifications, etc. Tracking, surveillance, ‘smart’ things, (phones, cards, chicken), are in theory ‘keeping us safe’. Despite conveniences associated with RFID technology, it boils down to tracking.

But how safe are RFID chips? The word chip sounds innocuous, like a greasy potato chip. But, when thinking about it, what sort of memory, internal radiation leakage, do these have and what will they look like tomorrow? RFID technology is currently used on banking, library books, pets, cattle, autos, medications, and some humans (externally, such as for patient identification purposes). The replacement of bar codes is another application of RFID chips, for the stated purpose of expediting the ‘checking out process’.

When RFID technology is merged with nanotechnology (hundreds of computers on a hair strand), a more penetrating technology will emerge with implantable microchips, or radiating computers under your skin, designed to track everything. Besides your information ‘leaking’ out such as banking, social security numbers, health status, think about atomic sized ‘machines’, potentially going into your cells. Sounds a bit lethal.

Today we see tiny drones which are being studied, shaped like mosquitoes, or hummingbirds, combining tracking and bio-sensing data collection. We already have released into the wild, genetically modified mosquitoes. We are seeing increased GMO foods with nanotechnology, and medications are already being put in some food and water. This is today. There are far reaching implications and consequences in this emerging field. Stay tuned, ‘naturally’ as long as possible. The day might come when that option will no longer exist.

Could side effects from food additives, water fluoridation, GMOs, tainted air, and excessive vaccines cause people to become mediocre and lose their critical thinking abilities? Some new technologies could make