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You need to have confidence in your ability and training to be able to handle hostile situations. Over the years I have had students come to my classes who have been through self-defense and tactical programs and told how they can prevent themselves being victimized and how as a potential victim they could defend themselves. To me these people were already being placed at a severe disadvantage by being told they were a potential victim, you’re only a victim if you let yourself be. You need a positive attitude, why should you be afraid of some scum bag that tries to intimidate, bully and rob people for a living.

What a lot of people forget is that when a criminal is going to commit a crime they are going to be scared; they are breaking the law and can get arrested, beaten up or shot in the process. Criminals look for easy targets; they don’t want problems as they are bad for business. Remember if you are going to be scared and nervous so are your attackers. Your attitude needs to be that with the knowledge and ability you have you can stop anyone who wants to mess with you, your clients or your family.  The criminal made the mistake of starting the fight with you and they are going to lose, that’s it!

The bad guys will have put together a mental plan and strategy for attacking you, so shouldn’t you have a plan for dealing with confrontations? The easiest way to assess someone’s personal security is to go up and ask them a question like what’s the time etc. By doing this and reading their reaction you can tell if they are security aware or clueless. Now think about how you would react if a stranger approached you and asked you the time; what’s your body language going to be saying, are you going to tell them the time, will you be looking at your watch or assessing their body language, will you be in a defensive stance, are checking for any obstacles in your area that can trip you up, can you access your weapons, would you even be thinking about your weapon etc. The criminals want to set you up and catch you off guard, to do this they will use distractions or surprise. If you understand how the criminals operate you can hopefully spot a potentially hostile situation and avoid it or if it’s unavoidable reverse the situation and set the criminal up for failure.

Once you have identified that you are going to have to deal with a violent situation you need to quickly workout your strategy and put into operation your counter attack. There are three elements needed to win a confrontation; surprise, speed and aggression. If you can combine two of these elements in your counter attack, there is a greater chance you’ll be successful.

  • Surprise: This is the main thing that you require. Surprise will give you the edge in all confrontations, if the criminals don’t expect you to attack them; they won’t be ready to defend themselves.
  • Speed: Your actions need to be fast and decisive, no hesitation!
  • Aggression: Aggression will always beat fancy techniques.

If you understand how the criminals operate you can hopefully spot a potentially hostile situation and avoid it or if it’s unavoidable reverse the situation and set the criminal up for failure.

Other things you will need to consider is what do you want your body language to say, can you access your weapon, are your standing on slippery or uneven ground, are there objects that can trip you up, look for objects that can provide you with cover etc.  If you have already planned you reaction you’re not going to panic, you’ll just be going through your procedures and be setting the criminal up for your counter attack. So, if a stranger approaches you start setting them up by assessing their body language, assessing your surroundings, getting yourself into a defensive stance, consider what you want your body language to be saying, select target points on the stranger and think about how you’ll access your weapon.

Shootings generally take place at very close quarters and there will be many obstacles which you can trip over like curb stones, chairs and tables etc. be aware of what’s around you. Chances are you will not have the space or time to get into textbook shooting stance, so this is where training in one handed close quarter shooting is a must. You should use distractions as they can give you the seconds needed to deploy your weapon or move to cover. When you are out and about on your daily business always consider how you would react if attacked by those around you. The next time you are at the mall or in a coffee shop look around workout if you could access your weapon quickly, are you in a good position, what you could use as cover and how you would exit the building safely!

One of the main things that you need to learn is how to assess someone’s body language and control your own. This is very important skill as you need to try to identify someone’s intentions and not telegraph to them your potential response.

There are three main components of communication between humans; spoken words contribute 7%, vocal tone and volume make up 38% and body language makes up 55% of the message. So, let’s say you’re approached by someone while pumping gas into your car and they are telling you how much they like your car; their breathing rate is shallow and accelerated, their sweating and making agitated movements with their hands. Are you going to engage them in a conversation about the car or read their body language, assess your surrounding and be ready to deploy your weapon!

What to look for – Observe these very common traits and you should be ready.

Start reading people’s body language, at a basic level you can generally tell if people are happy, sad or angry. Even though it’s not 100% reliable, someone’s facial expressions are good indicators to what mental state the person is in. If someone is stressed, their faces will be flushed, they may be sweating, have veins protruding in their neck or forehead and they may be a tensing their facial muscles.

When you are out at the mall or in a restaurant or bar, watch the people around you and try to identify what mood they are in or what type of discussion they are having with others. It should be easy to identify if a man and a woman are on a romantic date or two business people are having a heated discussion, when in a coffee shop try to determine what people are looking at on their laptops; are they concentrating or goofing around. You must learn to read body language, because this will help you identify, avoid and if necessary react to potential threats.

When a person is involved in a stressful situation their body will undergo over 150 different physical stress reactions. These stress reactions will happen to you and criminals alike, you need to be aware of them and be able to notice them in yourself and others. A bodies stress reactions include: adrenal surges, increased heart rate and blood circulation, sweating, increased respiration, increased muscular tension, reduced peripheral field of vision, reduced decision-making ability and auditory exclusion.  If you have ever been involved in a car accident, try to remember how you felt just before, during and after then try to remember if you felt any of the above reactions. If you have ever tripped over something and subsequently fell, try to remember what it felt like; for example, did the time between you actually tripping and hitting the floor seem longer than the fraction of a second it took in actuality, were you sweating and was your heart beating rapidly when you hit the floor?

Learn to read your own body language as well as others, if you are in a situation and your heart rate starts to increase or you start to breathe quickly; try to identify why this is happening. Look for these stress reactions in people around you, if someone approaches you and their face is flushed, eyes are wide and bloodshot and have veins protruding in their forehead and neck, maybe you want to try to avoid them or get ready for a confrontation!

Warning signs that identify someone is agitated and a potential threat include direct prolonged eye contact, flushed face, accelerated breathing rate, sweating, veins in neck and forehead are protruding, hands moving towards a concealed weapon, hands rising getting ready to strike, eyes narrowing, looking to see if you are armed or at intended target’s areas on your body, changing to side on shooting or fighting stance and lowering the body before launching an attack.

Always remember, if the criminal is street wise they will be monitoring your body language and trying to predict your reactions. You should never give any indication that you are going to defend yourself or are armed; your reactions should be a total surprise to you attacker. You must have an offensive mindset, not defensive. You should always keep a low profile, do whatever you can to avoid problems but if put in a situation where you have to use force the bad guys will be totally over whelmed. Remember, fighting is for amateurs, you just end things!

You need to have confidence in your ability and training to be able to handle hostile situations. Over the years I have had students come to my classes who have

I believe there are several factors that make Food Storage stand out for people but above them all, I think the main reason is that everyone is so much more in tune with hunger. You don’t have to go more than a few hours some days before your stomach starts grumbling and I think the prospect of going hungry hits people in the gut (no pun intended) more tangibly than almost any other aspect of prepping because we know what it feels like. We feel it every day!

Think about it for a minute. We all eat pretty much every day, but how often are you fighting for your life, trapped in a bunker shooting hordes of zombies with your tricked out AR15? How often do you have to stitch yourself up after cutting your hand on a piece of rusty metal you were using to add more protection the family mini-van? Food Storage is important because you have to eat to live, but it should be the easiest preparedness item you can check off your list.

In this post, I hope to cover a lot of ground with the different aspects of Food Security as I see them and how to make a plan for your family and actually start building your food storage so that minor or even major disruptions in the food supply won’t impact you nearly as much.

The 3 Pillars of Food Security

In thinking about food storage or what we should do to have a well-balanced approach to storing food I think we are looking at three main categories. The first would be the food you eat every day. Next would be longer term food storage and lastly we would need to have a plan for growing our own food should all hell break loose and the other two options are depleted.

Buy more of what you already eat everyday

Unless you are the rare person who eats out all of the time and have nothing but some baking soda and a bottle of smart water in your fridge, chances are you go to the grocery store at least once a week. Your family probably has favorite meals or you have patterns of food that are regularly consumed because you like them. One of the easiest ways to build up your food storage for most people is to simply buy a little bit more of what you are already eating.

Long-Term Storable foods are a smart investment when you are ready.

This sounds easy enough right? Even I tried this on my wife at first and said, just buy more of the stuff we eat. The problem is that she has a grocery budget. Anything extra, costs extra and her budget wasn’t allowing her to build up any supplies. We could have cut in some areas and bought a little extra which we have done before but then you get off-balance. You end up with a freezer full of meat and nothing to go with it. I know, what’s wrong with that?

Stocking up extra is going to take some extra funds, but this amount can grow or shrink as your resources allow. Start by purchasing a few extra of all of the canned food items you buy. Then work your way out to the staples and baking goods and sundries like toilet paper and shampoo. You can make do without shampoo and I would even say toilet paper, but you can’t make do without food. Don’t run out and buy 55 extra value packs of Charmin ultra if you don’t have enough food to last a week.

If you have a windfall you can hit the local Sam’s or Costco and purchase some bulk items, but it is vital to make sure that you are using these items quickly enough that they don’t spoil. Giant tubs of peaches aren’t as great when they are 3 years past their expiration date. As a goal, I would try for 6 months of the foods you normally eat stocked away. This is well within the normal expiration dates for most of the food you buy except refrigerated items. By purchasing the foods you eat regularly and by maintaining a good rotation policy you should easily be able to keep things fresh in the pantry.

Buy and store foods meant for Long Term Storage

Once you have 6 months of the food you normally eat in the pantry, you should augment your supplies with long-term storage foods. These are foods with a shelf live measured in decades not years and they are the perfect set it and forget it option for long term planning. There are several different methods of buying processed foods or you can do the work yourself and save some money in the long run.

There must be dozens of suppliers of freeze-dried or dehydrated foods on the market and one even advertises on our site. The products, packaging and processes used to create these options vary somewhat but the end result is generally the same. This is food that you can purchase that requires no refrigeration although a cool storage environment is ideal. You purchase kits usually that have a set number of meals all individually stored or in #10 cans. I think that all of the vendors are moving away from #10 cans though and going to the stack able plastic tubs. This not only stores all of your food which come nicely packaged in Mylar bags, but the buckets can be reused when the food is all gone.

There are many ways to determine the value for each vendor but before buying a thousand dollars of freeze dried food, I would do your research. Once you have settled on a few vendors you want to test some of their products out. Most companies will either sell you a sample pack for a really low price or they will ship you a small sample for free. For those who have never had freeze dried food, it is an experience and I would caution you that while some of these meals are really good, this isn’t gourmet food you are buying. You are buying food that will last 30 years in your basement so that you can eat when you are starving. You aren’t going to get Ruth Chris’ flavor out of your freeze dried ground beef but it will keep you alive.

Build capacity to grow your own renewable food source

The last category is usually what people leave till it’s too late. It could be that you live in an apartment or have no room to plant a garden. It may be that gardening is hard work and you are unable to get out there and bust up a plot of ground or you may have tried and ended up with a patch of weeds that would make a Billy goat choke. Regardless of the reason, having the ability to grow your own food is going to be the most important part of your food security plan. This is hard because it will actually involve work and more importantly your time.

As far as I know you can’t go buy a garden in a can. I know there are a lot of places that sell survival seed banks and this might be something to consider if you have a garden already, but you should not expect to walk out your back door after the grid has gone down and have a Jack in the Beanstalk miracle overnight. Gardening requires a lot of energy at the start with clearing the land and preparing the soil. Once you have the ground ready, seeds take time to germinate and then it may be months before you actually have anything edible coming up in your garden.

Disease, pests, poor soil and even weather will all conspire to keep your garden from producing fruit so when you don’t have to depend on a garden for the food that will feed your family, that is the time you need to put in the work to get a garden established. Another aspect of gardening is that you can learn to can your own food. If we do go through a horrible grid-down scenario there will likely not be any power. Canning your vegetable harvest is going to be the simplest way to preserve food. I think its better to practice and purchase your equipment now as opposed to having something horrible happen and you have no way to save your food for your family.

So what should my plan be?

Here is my recommendation and I am happy for someone to tell me otherwise, but I think if you are looking to build up your food storage it should go something like this.

  1. Start planning a garden now. Next year’s growing season will be here sooner than you think. Now is the time to get your area set up and start getting the soil ready to grow your vegetables.
  2. Build up your stores of food you eat every day until you have a good 6 months’ worth of food on-hand. The goal should be that you don’t need to run to the store if the power is going to be out due to a winter storm. You shouldn’t be fighting the crowds if you only have a few hours of notice before something bad happens.
  3. Once you have 6 months’ worth of food, you should look into long-term storable food. This is food that will last you for years that you won’t need to worry about rotating and will give you a great option for supplementing your regular meals if needed.
  4. Use and rotate your food stores. This will accomplish two things. First, it will give you exposure to the menu options you have and secondly it will allow you to keep your inventory fresh.

Other tips and Resources

To find out how much food you want to stock up, you could look to the Church of Latter Day Saints. They are nearly famous for their stance on storing food and mandate (don’t quote me on this) that every family have a years’ worth of food stored up. There is a food storage calculator online that you can look at to see how much of various types of foods the LDS recommends you have on-hand for a certain family size. It’s amazing when it is all in on list like that.

Are there other food options? Of course, there are so many different ways to provide food for yourself from sprouting to livestock. This is just one path you can take. The point is to start moving in the direction of building up your stores. Worst case scenario you will have food to eat…

We also have some other posts that cover this subject from certain angles that you can check out.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope this gave you some ideas for how you can make your own family’s food storage plan stronger.

I believe there are several factors that make Food Storage stand out for people but above them all, I think the main reason is that everyone is so much more

Planning a day hike can teach you so many skills that you can incorporate into your bug out plans. I have advocated that longer backpacking trips are extremely valuable for the lessons you can learn from them, which apply directly to any plans you have of strapping that heavy pack on your back and hiking into the local forest. A day hike gives you similar opportunities to learn, practice your bug out plan, and get some great exercise at the same time in the beauty of nature. What’s not to love?

You shouldn’t just walk into the woods unprepared though even when by definition; a day hike should have you home at night. Accidents happen and that is one reason why I am a prepper. I like to think that even small day hikes present opportunities for me to be able to take care of myself or my family if something unexpected happens.   Do you think Aaron Ralston, famously portrayed in the movie 127 Hours didn’t plan to make it home that night he left? Aaron spent over 5 days trapped by a giant bolder and was only able to free himself by first breaking, then cutting off his own arm. Talk about survival!

Each year there are numerous people lost or stranded in the wilderness so it makes perfect sense to me to pack for unplanned visits to the woods.

All of that isn’t to say that I think you should bring your full Bug Out Bag with you, but for some of you that might be a good idea to see how it feels after a few hours. My wife and I did this before our first backpacking trip to try out items like our portable stove, water filtration items, eat some of the freeze-dried food we would live off of in the wilderness but most importantly to see how lugging our new backpacks full of gear felt. That short day hike taught us a lot about our packs so I put together this list below for any of you who might be considering the same thing  on a day hike scale.

Day hike checklist

Feel free to print this day hike checklist off and use it for your own adventures. The items I list below are just suggestions. Where you live , the environment you will be experiencing on your day hike and personal abilities should all factor into your own choices, but this list should cover the basics needed for survival.

DayHikeChecklist_

A day hike checklist will help you be prepared for unforeseen situations.

Navigation

Map and Compass – Who wants to get lost out in the great outdoors? Having a good compass and a map of your area are very important for anything but the shortest hikes in a National Park where the trail is well-marked and usually less than a few miles. Maps are more important if you aren’t familiar with the area, the terrain is treacherous,  steep or the environment is harsher (think Grand Canyon). National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps are excellent and usually available for most of the larger destinations. These maps are waterproof which is a huge plus if you sweat like a beast or are planning to ford the local river to punch your bad ass hiker card.

You also need to know how to use that compass and be able to read a map.

Sun Protection

Sunglasses – Sunglasses, especially polarized lenses are a must have if for nothing else than looking cool. Seriously, sunglasses will protect your eyes and keep you possibly from loosing your footing in the gaze of the setting sun.

Chap stick/Lip Balm –This is one thing that I never used to carry until I went backpacking in the winter one time. Usually I never use chap stick, but this one time I had a cold and my nose was stuffed up which meant I was breathing out of my mouth. Eventually, my lips were nice and chapped so some good lip balm, although it isn’t a life saver, sure makes the journey smoother. Yes I said that.

A good headlamp doesn’t have to cost a fortune and can be a lifesaver if you are walking in the dark.

Hat – I try to always wear a hat when I am in the woods. In the winter it is something to keep me warm like a toboggan or I can go Crocodile Dundee with my Outback Trading Company River Guide hat. Nothing beats one of these if you are caught in the rain. They also do an excellent job of keeping the sun off your face. In hotter weather a lighter option might be better like the OR Helios hat.

Protective layers – In the wintertime this is usually more of a thought but even in the summer I plan for something should the temperatures drop or I am forced to spend the night in the woods. This can be as simple as a capilene base layer or a shemagh. When you are hiking you are burning energy that keeps you warm. I try to plan for what I would want as clothing if I couldn’t move.

Light – Always have a light with you. My flashlight is part of my EDC kit and even sitting here at my computer, I have a flashlight on me. When I am going hiking I always take a headlamp as well because I think they are superior when you are walking in the dark. These come in all prices but you don’t have to spend a fortune on a good headlamp.

First Aid Kit – I don’t expect anyone to take the supplies to be able to suture their arm if they have to hack it off with a dull multitool, but a good first aid kit should always go with you. I have the ultralight first aid kit from Adventure medical, but I augment this with a tourniquet and an extra blood stopper bandage. We have had to break into the first aid kit on multiple occasions for simple cuts and scrapes to aspirin.

Ability to make fire – You may be forced to spend the night in the woods and if this happens to you it makes sense to have something to make a fire with. Normally if I am out on an official backpacking trip I have several methods just in case, but for day hikes I have a simple Bic lighter that I have wrapped about 3 feet of duct tape around just in case. This way I can easily start a fire if needed. I keep this in a waterproof case and obviously you can also take a magnesium striker as backup.

Tools – It may sound like overkill but I take a knife and my multitool. I don’t lug my big end of the world survival knife on day hikes but I have my favorite folder as well as my Leatherman which should cover just about any need I have. Even if that need is to saw a bone in half.

Camelbak Antidote 100 oz. capacity and tough as nails.

Food – A lot of people take off into the woods thinking they will be back in a few hours only to find themselves stranded for a couple of days. Now, you won’t die technically for a pretty long time from starvation but I always pack some food in my backpack . If the duration of the hike is longer, I will even pack an extra day’s meal. This can be as simple as an MRE although there are lighter options like a Freeze-dried pouch of something like my favorite, chilli-mac, or a few Cliff bars or some trail mix. Even if you don’t eat them, it is a good idea to have them just in case.

Water – This can be as simple as a bottle of water or a water bladder. I have grown to appreciate the usefulness (and capacity) of my Camelbak Antidote 100 oz. Plus, I don’t have to stretch my arms behind me or take off my pack to get a drink. If I am going to a new place then I also pack my Sawyer Mini water filter so I can resupply if needed. I haven’t had to use that yet as the Camelbak has always been enough for my hikes, but you never know.

Shelter – For me I usually just have the simple emergency mylar blanket or a survival bivvy . They aren’t perfect, but they are better than nothing. I wouldn’t likely put a sleeping bag in a day pack. You might argue that you should be able to build your own shelter and I agree, but what if you are trapped by a bolder or for some other reason aren’t able to build your favorite debris shelter? Options.

Extra items – Depending on the location I will take a GPS to back up my map reading. Sometimes I will take extra batteries for the electronics, but usually I just put fresh rechargeable batteries in there before we leave. Other nice to haves are dependent upon how much room I have in my pack like a mat for sitting down that I made out of a piece of reflective insulation material. It’s very lightweight and could even double as a signaling device. I will also take a trash bag sometimes because they, like duct tape have a lot of uses. My packs all have whistles as well. You will have other items you want to bring.

What items did I miss? What do you pack on your day hikes?

Planning a day hike can teach you so many skills that you can incorporate into your bug out plans. I have advocated that longer backpacking trips are extremely valuable for

A term you will hear frequently on Prepping and Survival websites is a Get Home Bag. You could also hear this called by other names (Get Me Home, Get Back) and they are all pretty much the same thing. Today we are going to discuss why a Get Home Bag is so important and something you should consider having if you are like most people and have to commute away from home every day for work. A Get Home Bag is similar to your Bug Out Bag but they have different purposes and what you need to put into your Get Home Bag will be different.

What is a Get Home Bag?

A get home bag is simply a bag of supplies you can use if you are forced to walk back home after some disaster or crisis. The assumption is that for whatever reason you are away from home, possibly far away and you can’t simply call AAA or a cab to come and get you. There could be several levels of Get Home Bag and I will discuss those below depending on how far away from home you are which could determine how long it will take you to get back home.

I used to have a job for a short time that had an 86 mile (one way!) commute. It was an opportunity that was too good to pass up but thankfully I found another position much closer to home. Every day I would jump in my car and set out on the highway for an hour and a half drive. Naturally, I never really imagined anything would prevent me from driving back home at the end of the day, but if some disaster struck while I was away, 86 miles would be a pretty long haul on foot.

When I worked that job I didn’t have any supplies with me except an iPod probably. I don’t even think I had water in my car. If something had happened, I would have been in trouble if I had to rely on what I had on hand and a Get Home Bag is the answer to that problem. You don’t have to work 86 miles away from home to need a Get Home Bag because the important supplies you have in there could save your life even much closer to home.

GetHomeBag2

Maxpedition makes excellent bags.

Is a Get Home Bag even necessary?

You may be thinking ‘Hey, I don’t work 86 miles away from home’ so why would I need a Get Home Bag and I will concede that in some cases, the distance you are traveling away from home will dictate what you might need to make it home in the first place. Let’s say there is a disaster and you are only 5 miles away or closer from home. You could probably crawl home if you needed in a day. Assuming you didn’t live in an insect infected swamp, the dessert or in a war zone, you might not need a get home bag.

But there doesn’t really have to be a disaster for a get home bag to help you out. Winter storms are a natural occurrence. Last year, there was a huge traffic snarl in Atlanta when a relatively minor amount of snow and ice shut the city down over night. Your Get home bag could give you the supplies you needed to make it home or just as easily make your overnight stay more comfortable.

Get Home bags don’t have to see the end of the world as we know it. There could be earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, landslides, winter storms and on and on. Just having this backup could come in handy.

Your Get Home Bag packing list

So enough about the purpose of a get home bag, what do you pack in there? I think that we could logically break this down into different tiers or levels for how long the get home bag would need to be called into service to get you home. There will be seasonally adjusted items but I will call those out on the list below.

Assuming the average uninjured adult walks approximately 3 miles per hour we will have three tiers below for distances of 3 to 90 miles. As with everything else in prepping your needs and situation as well as the actual disaster will have an effect on what you will need to use and how your preps would be different. This is just a general guideline but should be enough for the average person in average conditions.

Tier 1 – 1 – 3 Hours away

If you had to walk back home for 3 hours that could mean that you work approximately 9 miles away from home. This is very similar to my commute now and unless meteors hit the ground or we were bombed by someone, I think all things being equal I would be home in a relatively short time. Anything I pack is going to help me along my journey but does not anticipate an overnight stay. I would add some items just in case because I like to be prepared for surprises.

  • A good folding knife – This should be common sense. A knife and actually the first 6 items on this list are part of my Every Day Carry (EDC) so technically I have them wherever I go. I carry the Spyderco Tenacious.
  • Multi-Tool – From pliers to a small saw, there are a surprising number of things you can do with a good multi-tool.
  • Bandanna – Bandanas make a great filter for the first stage of water, a dust mask, bandage, and sling or if you plan on robbing a bank you will be in style. Just kidding on that last part.
  • Flashlight/headlight – I have a flashlight on my belt and a headlamp in my Get Home Bag. You can’t beat a headlamp at night when you need to have both hands free.
  • Water bottle – Ideally a stainless steel water bottle which can be used over a fire to boil water. Even if you don’t have a stainless steel version, something to carry water in.
  • Concealed Carry Weapon – Never leave home without it.
  • Comfortable/Sturdy footwear – I have written about the importance of good footwear before. You don’t want the S to hit the fan and you are in flip flops.
  • Rain gear – Always plan for rain because you do not want to be soaking wet without a chance of drying off. Hypothermia will sap your energy and could kill you at even moderately warm temperatures. An umbrella isn’t a good option because it will require you to hold it and you will just look like a dork if you have to run.
  • Gloves – Sturdy gloves will be a huge advantage if you have to do work you aren’t accustomed to. They can prevent cuts, burns and blisters.
  • Simple First Aid Kit with Blood Stopper – I am not talking about the cheap kind with Band-Aids and some Neosporin. If you have to walk home you can tough minor cuts out, but a blood stopper or Israeli bandage can be used for large bleeds. If things are bad enough you are walking home, you probably don’t want to go to the hospital if you can avoid it.
  • Dust Mask – I have regular dust masks that are really only good for dust and N95 masks which should be used in certain situations.
  • Hat – Good at keeping the rain, sun or snow off your head.
  • Sunglasses – The ideal pair of sunglasses are also safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris.
  • Snack/Energy Bars – Let’s face it you will not die if you have to walk home for a few hours but a little snack bar can lift your spirits and occupy your mind for a while. A little shot of energy never hurt anyone either.
  • Spare Ammo – Make sure you can refill that magazine if it empties out.
  • Lighter – I have a couple of lighters because they are just simpler than using a fire steel.
  • Spare Cash – In a power outage or worse, you may not be able to access the ATM. Credit cards may not be accepted either but cash usually is.
  • Paracord – A million and one uses.
  • Duct Tape – Two million and two uses.

Nalgene_stainless_steel_mug_fire

A Stainless Steel water bottle like this Nalgene will allow you to boil water if needed.

Tier 2 – 4- 8 hours away

To walk for 8 hours at the average pace of 3 miles an hour that would put you approximately 24 miles away from home. I would have everything in the Tier 1 Get Home Bag plus the following items.

  • Spare batteries for flashlights
  • Bivvy sack or Wool Blanket – SOL makes a great emergency bivvy sack that will keep you alive in pretty cold temperatures. This or a wool blanket if you have to spend the night outdoors.
  • Tarp or Poncho – Either can be used to keep the rain off of you. A camouflage poncho can also help keep you hidden.
  • Garbage Bags – You can lay or sit on these to keep water off your backside.
  • Spare Medications (if needed)
  • Spare socks – If you are walking for over 4 hours or are sweating a lot you will want to change your socks. Hang the old ones off your Get Home Bag to dry out. As a bonus you may want foot powder and moleskin for blisters.
  • Additional Layer for warmth – Simple base layers are lightweight and take up little space.
  • Wool or fleece cap – Nights get cool even in the summer.
  • Radio
  • Tinder materials for fire – I have seen some people add dryer lint and some WetFire tabs and place them inside their roll of toilet paper.
  • Water purification tablets – Simpler than bleach, cheaper than a LifeStraw and take up less room than most filters. Of course if I was going to carry a water filter I would carry the Sawyer Mini water filter because it takes up minimal room and weighs ounces.
  • Toilet Paper – Hey, when the SHTF you might need to take a… well you know what I mean. Also useful for cleaning glasses, blowing your nose or as tinder for a fire.

Tier 3 – Overnight Distance 80 + miles.

If you are like me and the commute was extra-long or the traveling conditions were hazardous it may take you 24 hours to make it home. This will involve sleeping somewhere overnight unless you just have to plug on and make it all in one shot. For a Tier 3 Get Home bag, I would add to the contents of the first two tiers, the following:

  • Sleeping bag – Size and temperature appropriate to your climate and season.
  • Large fixed blade knife – This could be used for larger chores like chopping firewood for your fire or making larger holes in people. I carry the Gerber LMF II.
  • Spare magazine for pistol – Can’t be too safe.
  • Walking Sticks – If you are walking 80 miles you would probably need a walking stick before it’s all over with. Walking sticks relieve pressure on your knees and can also be used with your poncho to make a shelter.
  • Advanced First Aid – Blood Stoppers, Celox and Ace Bandage
  • Additional Energy Bars or Survival Rations

What is the best bag to use for a Get Home Bag?

That is the million dollar question isn’t it? Well, first it helps to assemble all of your items to see how much space you need. For my Tier 1 Get Home Bag I use a Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack which fits everything I have, minus the shoes very nicely. I haven’t used them personally but am interested in the 5.11 Rush bags that come in three sizes to coincide with the duration of your stay (12, 24 and 72). I know the 5.11 brand and have several of their products, just not any bags and they have been of the highest quality. You do pay for that quality, but I think it is worth it and I want to get my hands on one of these bags for a review.

I have also been interested in looking at the Paratus 3 Day Operator’s Pack from 3VGear. The price is certainly reasonable so I am considering getting one of those to review also. At less than half the price of a 5.11 bag, it’s worth considering. There are so many options out there and you don’t have to spend a fortune on a bag to hold your gear. Most likely you aren’t being dropped into hostile territory in Afghanistan so most regular backpacks will do the job for you but your own needs and tastes will decide what works best.

In conclusion, you might be wondering what the difference between a Bug Out Bag and a Get Home Bag is and if you count all of the tiers together, throw in some more food and maybe cooking utensils you are pretty much looking at the same thing. It might be a good indicator that you have too much if you can’t tell the difference. Either that or you work a long way from home.

Hopefully this helped with some information. Any items I missed?

A term you will hear frequently on Prepping and Survival websites is a Get Home Bag. You could also hear this called by other names (Get Me Home, Get Back)

One of the hardest cords to cut for homesteaders is dependence on commercial feeds. Our modern livestock – even a lot of the dual-purpose homesteading breeds – are accustomed to certain types of feeds, heavy on mass-production monoculture grains and hay. Sometimes planting options seem limited, sometimes storage space is at a premium, and sometimes we struggle to figure out what folks did before Buy’N’Large made kibble and meal mix cheap and accessible. There is no one way to do anything, and no solution is going to work for everyone. However, I’ve put together some ideas for root vegetables and their tops that can cut some of our feed bills and feed dependency and alternative or “forgotten” ways of storing and using grains, legumes that might help cut feed costs and increase resiliency and self-sufficiency.

The methods here can be applied from sprawling homesteads to suburban homes and lots. Some of the tips actually apply to humans, too, especially the storage tidbits. There will be another article on alternative livestock feeds that will have even more help for smaller lots with livestock like rabbits and a couple of ducks or goats, and will also include some alternatives that are feeding people and animals on a larger scale in other parts of the world.

Corn Storage

Corn can be collected sweet or allowed to dry on the stalk for grinding and feed types, and an awful lot of livestock is happy with rough-grind “cracked” corn. Dry corn can also be soaked overnight to become more palatable and attractive to livestock. Natives used to dry corn on mats, both shucked and rubbed from the cobs or still attached to cobs, and colonists regularly had stacked racks that allowed good airflow beneath a roof for further drying before corn is transferred to a bin. Corn will keep better (stay dryer) if it’s left on the cob. Leaving the cob on can be space consuming, however. White folks have traditionally used large silos and smaller cribs for dry corn. Once it’s dried on the stalks, husks that have been left on can also be braided into ropes or wider bands, then suspended from ceilings in barns, cellars or homes. Birds and rats are still a risk, but it can be a space-saving way to store corn compared to old-style cribs, since it can go right over our heads, livestock heads, or additional storage areas.

Common grass grains

For households that are putting in limited amounts of grass grains like wheat, barley and oats, each square foot is precious. When there are small amounts, such as turning one or a few 5’x20’ plots and 5-10 pounds of seed into 40-65 pounds of grain or next-year’s planting-for-consumption stock, it’s incredibly important for that seed to dry properly. On a small scale, the cost of specialty machinery may not be available, especially at first, despite the time it can save.

Old-school stooking of stalks helps get them up into the air and at least somewhat away from some pests. However, if a corn bin has drying racks, or there’s a shed with wide doors and enough power to run a box fan, heads can also be cut from the stalks after bundling into stooks, and the bundles hung upside down in tiers, similar to old tobacco barns or even overhead in homes and barn walkways. Doing so cuts down on the amount of floor space needed while protecting the grains from rain, and increases protection against pests.

Old tobacco shed (braided corn or inverted grain bundles can be stored from racks and chains as tobacco once was)

Old tobacco shed (braided corn or inverted grain bundles can be stored from racks and chains as tobacco once was)

Storing corn and other grains overhead, even once bagged, can save space on the floor and shelves for harvests of apples or* potatoes, autumn and winter squashes, yams, and sweet potatoes, or for jarred and dehydrated produce.

* Potatoes and apples in the same space will make each other ripen/rot faster, but pears, yams and sweet potatoes get along like white on rice with pretty much all other crops once they’ve had their cure period. Since grain storage is ideally drydry, crops that like bins of damp sawdust and sand like carrots and turnips aren’t really great sharing space with corn, oats, barley, teff, buckwheat, or any other grain.

African grains

Millet and teff are incredibly difficult and time consuming to mill, but poultry can handle them easily without that step. Teff also makes a good hay and an excellent straw. The major advantage to the relatively rare teff is that this African crop is accustomed to some pretty harsh conditions, nutrient-depleted soils, and hand- and low-mech harvest. Millet is largely seen in game plots and songbird feed, but has plenty of nutritional value and some of the millets can handle pretty much any conditions. Both millet and teff are available in varieties can be had for serious clays, droughts, flood-drought, and saturated field tolerances, which can make them a huge asset for small homesteaders trying to cut feed-store cords.

Millet and corn kernels can also be turned into a type of silage for storage, or the entire still-green plant can be used – as can other grains, legumes, and leafy plants.

Silage

Silage is basically a type of fermentation that produces a high-moisture feed. Haylage and oatlege are basically just specialty types of silage. Brits produce a version called balage. In World War II, farmers sometimes used silage made from turnip and rutabaga tops to help get their breeding pigs and cattle through spring.

It can be created small-scale in heavy-duty contractor or special-purpose bags, in kegs and casks, by round-bale equipment and covers, or in bins from 5-10’ stock tanks to pits and shelters measured in meters. The green matter is chopped, packed down in layers, and covered. Sometimes something absorbent and lightweight like finished straw or chaff is added on top or a sweetener like honey or molasses or tree syrup is used in the layers. The important part of any silage process is to press out the oxygen, and to cover it against reintroduction of oxygen and precipitation.

Silage

Cows munching on silage.

Silage can be beneficial in that the starting moisture content is very high. A hay harvest that would be ruined by dews and rains can still become safe animal feed by converting it to silage instead.

It’s not pretty, but just like it got some of our heritage and rare breeds through World War II, in a disaster, the waste-not, want-not aspect of using the tops of storable feed and food crop, “ruined” hay crop, or a grain crop that isn’t going to get all the way to our frosts and freezes to feed our livestock may make it worthwhile for some raisers.

There are naysayers on the topic of silage as animal feed, so do research about the nutrients of various components and methods. Ducks and turkeys can’t have it and I haven’t seen a horse willing to chomp in, but most goats, cattle, pigs, chickens, rabbits, and donkeys could have at least part of their diets replaced, putting that much less pressure on hay and grains for winter and spring.

Roots & Tubers – Swedes, Beets, Sweets, Yams, Radishes and Turnips

Along with pea hay and straw, something farmers haven’t done in a while is maintain big stacks of root veggies along with their tall stacks of hay and straw, or keep tubers in big cellars to haul to their calves, rams, and steers. Forking forage turnips and swedes to cattle and pigs used to be just part of daily life, especially early in winter, and it wasn’t uncommon even up until the 1950s for British farmers to shred or grate swedes to a consistency we’d use for drying apples or potatoes, then use it for weanling cattle and goats, or “slop” them for their meat chickens and pigs.

Turnip Slicer

Image – Turnip slicer from WWII

Britain’s farming directives in response to World War II offers us a fair number of clues for hard-times livestock feeding, and one of the other fabulous nuggets that came out of it was the cooking of slop for pigs. Cooking makes things like potato and sweets and yams safe to eat, skin to “meat”, and boiling allows things like junk meat from pest animals to be included.

Although they aren’t as traditional, most of the cellar- or pit-worthy long-storage root crops like African yams, Chinese yams, and sweet potatoes can be used the same way for our vegan livestock (oca can be used for some livestock in low quantity, but those New Zealand and South American “yam” is a gas-producer capable of twisting up even goats and pigs). They tend to be low on protein, they aren’t the calorie powerhouses of grains, but they work well for stud stock, meat stock, un-bred stock, and things like rabbits and chickens that convert leafy foods efficiently.

Forage and sugar beets and turnips can be had relatively inexpensively as deer plot and pasture-improvement seed. Daikon-type radishes are available in the same genres, but some of the field-improving radishes are bred to produce a spongy biomass and then dissolve in a pretty short amount of time, so we need to pay attention to what we purchase.

BeetFodder

Image – Dairy cattle on forage beets.

Some livestock will eat a daikon radish as-is, but some will pass it unless it’s been boiled – and it’s as much animal-to-animal as it is species or breed. Introducing new foods should progress slowly, but livestock that is regularly exposed to a variety of foods is more likely to nibble something new when it’s mixed in with the old favorites.

Things like sweet potatoes, radishes, turnips and beets are double winners, because both the tops and the roots are edible – for us and for livestock. They can either be grazed early and allowed to develop roots later with pasture rotation, pigs can be rotated in after goats and cattle to dig up tubers (not sweets), tops can be culled and delivered to livestock as green food a little at a time to avoid serious stunting where climates are less forgiving and then the roots can be harvested, or tops can be removed and fed or added to silage when the tubers are being harvested.

Some of the root veggies are ideal to grow in spring, others in the heat of the year. With yams and sweets on the Southern summer end of the spectrum and swedes and Daikons on the shake-off-frosts end, there’s a livestock augmentation in the root crops for pretty much everything but ducks, horses and turkeys. Even donkeys can chomp into some cooked radishes, yams and sweets along with their hay.

*Ducks can nibble some, but they aren’t really supposed to be grazers; they really need grain seeds and more proteins than root veggies provide.

Apples and Pears as Fodder

Images – Hogs on apples

Images – Hogs on apples

 

Chickens and hogs have historically been scrap compactors, turning odd ends and wilted produce into nummy bacon and eggs, but, again, evolution means they’re not quite as good as it as they used to be. Look for foraging-capability in breed and lineage descriptions (sometimes in percentages and sometimes a rating system), and try to buy from people who at least partly pasture raise their livestock.

Goats, sheep and cattle will chomp into apples, pears and plums as well as the chickens and pigs that go ga-ga for them, but chickens and hogs can handle a higher amount of sweet fruit in their diet. Chickens can also easily handle crabapples and wild plums. Using even just windfall and wormy fruit from existing trees or planting some storage and needs-to-cure apples to our tree fruit can help increase the amount of nutrients and calories we produce on our property, especially if we’re able to situate chickens and rabbits under the canopy – stacking our food production into an even smaller footprint.

Extra bonus: Most meat stock that is finished on apples, pears or beets ends up with really excellent flavor once it’s in the pot. At least a week, but up to a month with a diet supplement or change in those directions can make a huge difference. They still need access to hays while finishing. In Southern climes where sweet potatoes will grow in abundance between traditional crabapple and wild plum hedges, they can have the same effect on hogs, lambs, kids and chickens, making for some seriously succulent eats.

Growing & Storing Livestock Feed

Another article is in the works looking at alternative livestock feeds, things that go even further out on a limb than turnip-top silage and researching African grains and tubers (like tree hay and tree fodder options, and boosting protein for game birds and young chicks).

Even with more traditional foods and feeds, we can start impacting our livestock costs by looking back at history to see what was used – and how – before we depended on fuels and electricity for delivering kibble. We can learn a great deal especially looking at hard times when farmers and small raisers had to make due with limited feed options, such as in Great Britain during World War II and Cuba during the initial months and years of the oil embargo. Those methods can help us figure out how to cut costs and how to develop a sustainable plan for our modern livestock should we ever need it.

As mentioned, modern livestock – even the heritage breeds to some degree – has half a century or more of the Green Revolution under its belt. They are accustomed to pressed and formed feeds in large part, the condensed calories of grains. Modern livestock is largely built for enormous feed conversion, which may be slowed or delayed with certain types of feed, and in many cases, they won’t have correct gut microflora to immediately switch to something new. Always keep good stock records of production and feed, and always transition feeds slowly for livestock, especially small and young livestock.

One of the hardest cords to cut for homesteaders is dependence on commercial feeds. Our modern livestock – even a lot of the dual-purpose homesteading breeds – are accustomed to

For Preppers, unless you think the government will never be interested in you, reducing what they know about you and yours is a necessity. Perhaps you have switched over to cash to avoid being tracked through credit, debit, gift, phone and customer loyalty cards, but have you stopped to consider how safe is your cash? Maybe you have heard about the possible threat of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips that are or might someday be embedded in paper money. Don’t worry, the Feds have a potentially much easier way to follow you and your cash. And even if this technology is not as good as RFID, it probably has the potential to provide the government, and hackers, with information you really wish they did not have.

For most of us, the point of origin of our cash is an ATM or bank teller, while some of us use check cashing services. If you get paid by cash, be patient, we will get to that by the end of this article. All that money is counted by machines. It is likely those machines can scan serial numbers to check on the number and denomination of the bills they count or dispense. You can no longer just avoid new bills with consecutive serial numbers; circulated unmarked bills are no longer safe either. So the NSA can know where you were, when, how much, in what denominations and what serial numbers your cash withdrawals are. If they do not know this now, then they will, just as soon as they want to; the technology already exists.

What do you do with your money?

Eventually you have to spend it; otherwise it is useless, unless you like really expensive toilet paper. If you spend it at a business, then they get your $20s. If the cashier will not accept $50s, $100s or cash checks, then they do not give out $20s as change to anyone. Those $20s go to the bank every night. Now the government knows where, what day, and about how much money you spent at that business. Now if you spend it at QuickChek or Wawa, then all they know besides your movements is that your cholesterol is probably going up. They wouldn’t let your health care insurance know, would they? But what if you spend it at a gun store, strip club, drug dealer, gay bar, church donation plate, liquor store, casino or the gas station nearest your survival hideout? How much of your sense of safety would you bet that the administration would not give this information to the ATF, DEA, FBI, IRS, your spouse, your employer or let it leak to social media? Maybe they will hold the information until they need your silence or compliance. Think about this: Are all hacks and data breaches really done by anti-government activists? Maybe some information is intentionally released, or left in insecure places. The government knows when and where you get your cash and knows the day and location that you spend your $20s.

nsa-prism-government-surveillance-humor

What about other denominations? Since people get much of their money in $20s, they do not get most of their $1s, $5s and $10s from banks or check cashing services; they get them as change. Some of that change comes from the float that stores need to make change, but the rest comes from customers. A lot of places find it easier to withdraw a new float each day when they deposit their cash. Now the government knows the point of origin of those smaller bills. The closer to opening time that you buy something, the more likely you are to get a bill from the float. Of course, Uncle Sam cannot be sure the change you receive comes from that store, maybe it got to you through a third-party, but over time a pattern emerges.

It is a lot more likely, especially if you frequent the same store, that the money is yours and not some third party’s. Still, the government does not know who you are, unless you deposit those bills. If Washington D.C. is using face-recognition software through the security cameras at your local 7-Eleven to track you, then you have got bigger problems than having them follow your cash. If you spend money at most stores, unless it is almost closing time, then your small bills go to the next person and you become their third-party. Basically you are pretty safe with small bills, unless you deposit it in a bank or use a credit card with the transaction, such as for the room deposit at a motel.

What if you run a cash business?

If you accept some checks, then your cash revenue is probably close to being equal to your expenses. At least some of your customers do not care about cash security and you cannot tell them you will not take anything bigger than a $10 bill on a $1,000 job. Now you have $20s with your customers name on them. Small businesses like to use cash to pay their suppliers and employees. Those businesses will put your $20s into their bank and now the government knows that your customers’ money just went to one of your suppliers, but they do not know who you are, yet. Even minimum wage employees will deposit part of their pay if they have a bank account. Now the government knows your employees were paid, ultimately, from your customers. If they mine all the meta-data on your customers, employees and suppliers, can the government find you, determine your customer list, know your gross and net revenue, and what taxes you have due? Maybe, maybe not. But, if you deposit even one $20 bill from a customer, the odds they can track you just went way up. Why, because you are one of the few small business owners in the loop.

allseeingbigbrother

Oh, what if you are the customer? The government now knows where you shop and to a certain extent, for what you shop. Building a grow room (so you will be positioned when your state legalizes marijuana)? Building a shelter or secret room? Bulletproofing your hideaway? Getting your car survival-ready? Bought a safe, an attack dog, a hunting bow, ammonium nitrate, acetone & hydrogen peroxide, 10,000+ rounds of ammunition? $20s and larger bills can have the government at your door, either now or when they think the SHTF.

What if you get paid in cash? Much of the above also applies to you. Plus, if you get paid in twenties that originated from several of your employers’ customers and you deposit them in a bank, then the government can quickly tell you are being paid under the table. Now they can blackmail you, or get you to turn state’s witness against your employer. If your bank, like mine, is paying 0.03% interest, why do them the favor of depositing money?

Here is a potentially difficult and inconvenient, but very helpful trick: trade your cash with other people in cash intensive businesses:

  • Taxi drivers
  • Contractors, electricians, roofers, plumbers, etc.
  • Convenience stores
  • Adult entertainment clubs
  • Used car, motorcycle or boat dealers that finance their own sales
  • Liquor stores
  • Restaurants
  • Parking garages
  • Car wash facilities
  • Charitable organizations
  • Jewelers

If they are hesitant to swap cash, you can offer them $1 on every hundred. Obviously, only trade with people you do not mind the government thinking you do business with (i.e. leave out your drug dealer). Also try to trade with as many different people (and not too many preppers) as possible, lest they pick up on a pattern.

Bottom line: Get rid of your $20s ($50s and $100s) at places you do not care if Big Brother knows you shop there. Do not use your small change near closing time or deposit it in a bank. Do not deposit cash in a bank anyway, you will need it soon enough. The last question is not “Am I being paranoid?” the last question is “Am I being paranoid enough?”

For Preppers, unless you think the government will never be interested in you, reducing what they know about you and yours is a necessity. Perhaps you have switched over to

I wanted to address a few common misconceptions that I think some people have with how they plan to address a SHTF event in their lives. There are some that are more dangerous than others granted, but all of these prepping myths give us an opportunity to dissect various topics in the prepping community to better understand the risks and rewards of various approaches. In this article, I want to discuss the myth that some preppers have that if the SHTF they are simply going to don their brand new Bug Out Bags and quietly walk into the national forest. This is the bug out to the woods strategy that I read about often in comments or on forums.

This weekend I was walking with my dog on a new trail we had discovered and as often happens, I began to look around at the trees and water sources and soak in the apparent solitude. I think about how remote we are when we get into the woods and the sounds from roads, picnic areas or nearby neighborhoods falls away and you are left with the feeling that you are in the middle of nowhere. I think about this even though I know full well that I am just a short walk back to the parking lot where myself and dozens of others have pulled in temporarily to enjoy the outdoors and a relatively undisturbed spot of nature that our tax dollars are funding.

I was walking down trails, crossing small creeks and envisioning how someone could think that if a disaster happened how they could run out here and survive for a while at least. I was even thinking this myself for a while, but the idea that many people could survive a SHTF event simply by walking into the woods and making a shelter is foolhardy. If this is your plan, you might want to consider a few things first before you leave it all behind and step into the woods for what could be the last time.

Could other people have the same idea as you?

What do you think you are running to?

As with any conversation on topics common to the prepping community, it helps to set a framework for discussion. For the purposes of this article, we will assume that you and your family must leave your home. This could be for a whole host of reasons, but we will go on the assumption that you are running from a bad situation (riots, war, plague, and zombies) and your hope is to find peace, safety and perhaps a new life hidden in the woods of a nearby forest. This could be a large national forest or simply a few thousand acres in your town that hasn’t been developed.

It sounds logical at first doesn’t it? You have the gear you need in your bug out bag, you have been camping before so living in the woods on its face doesn’t seem like a bad idea. There is no place else to go and if you simply walk into the forest, you can find a place next to a stream or a lake, set up camp and begin hunting for wild game and frying some freshly caught fish. Maybe you even have a location that you have been to before that you know is perfect and you think that you will be safe in this remote space in the woods and that somehow you will be able to avoid whatever it was you were running from.

Now, I will admit that there are people who can walk into the wild and survive, even thrive. The number of people who can do this with only what they carry on their back is a miniscule number though and the people I have witnessed (usually on TV if I’m honest) have a tremendous amount of skills, experience and luck. Is this a group you consider yourself a member of?

Most of us, even the crustiest through-hiker on the Appalachian trail needs supplies to live. Can we go out for brief times and survive? Of course, but if you plan to walk into the forest for the rest of your life with nothing more than some snares you have never used, your trusty .22 rifle , and some dehydrated food I think you need to revisit your strategy.

What are the downsides?

The downsides to this approach are numerous but I think the main two are that most of us do not live in the middle of nowhere. If a societal collapse were to happen, there would be a lot of other people with bug out bags hiking into the woods right along with you. That wild game you are depending on catching just like they do on the survival shows, won’t stand up to an onslaught of weekend warriors with their expensive sleeping pads and high powered rifles. In this scenario, it isn’t like you can walk back to Walmart and get some groceries and go back to your tent in the woods.

Where I live we have a homeless population that disappears every night. I know that in warmer months, a good number of them live in a wooded area between two interstates, but my assumption is that area isn’t the safest place in the world. These homeless people have a stable society they can walk to for shelter or a handout on most days. What if the stable society collapsed and started moving in with them? What if nobody could eat and there were no shelters to go when the temperature gets cold? Maybe you could find a reasonably remote place to stay where you wouldn’t have other people around you, but you would still find the issues of acquiring food a major obstacle.

If that isn’t enough, safety would be a huge consideration in the woods. Your tent offers zero protection from a sharp stick, much less bullets. Additionally, have you tried to live in them for weeks at a time? Even the best tents start breaking down and hand-made shelters would need to be constantly worked on to maintain their weather proofing. If you are surrounded by forest, it will be harder to see people approaching you and it would be easy for them to spy on you from a distance without being seen. If the SHTF and times are desperate, anything you have could become something that unscrupulous people want to take from you. What about if you wanted to leave camp? You couldn’t lock anything up could you so it could easily be stolen while you were away. Leave someone behind and they could be overwhelmed by larger numbers. Would you leave a woman alone in this situation?

Is there a better plan?

I have said numerous times that my first plan is to bug in at almost all costs. Does that mean I will never leave my house regardless of the reason? No, but I would have to be under extreme pressure before I would take my family into the woods. If I was making my way somewhere and only needed to stop in the woods for the night – that would be one thing. I would not plan on packing all our stuff on our backs and hiking into the forest though and expect to survive for very long.

What if you know how to forage off the land and you can eat nuts and berries? That’s great but all the other issues are still there. Other people are going to be with you in the forest, and you can’t defend a tent as well as you can your house. If you believe that your bug out plan is to hike into the National Forest that connects to your property and you haven’t considered some of these points, maybe it’s worth a second thought. I myself will know when it’s time to retreat and run away, but I will be very slow to leave my home and although I love walking, hiking and even backpacking in the woods I don’t think it is a valid plan to try and live there if the grid-goes down. Give me my home and zero electricity or water over the nakedness of the forest any day.

I wanted to address a few common misconceptions that I think some people have with how they plan to address a SHTF event in their lives. There are some that

 

Preparedness means different things to different people. Some may be comfortable with just an emergency kit in their cars, while others stockpile ammo, food and toilet paper in a secret underground fortified bunker. Prepping will always run the gamut.

My husband and I are somewhat new to the idea of prepping, and have taken only a few measures ourselves at this point in time. But in our many discussions, we decided we don’t just want to survive if the SHTF, we want to thrive—live well, prosper, flourish. It is our goal to position ourselves well for a good life in bad times, especially if life as we now know it in the USA comes crashing down.

Skill building may just be the most important prep of all, but it is not something that everyone immediately considers ahead of stockpiling and other preps. Your skills go with you no matter where you are, for one thing, so you’ll have them if you need to bug out. And the better developed any particular skill is, the more it can be of service to you. A simple illustration of this is shooting a gun; target practice will help you be more accurate if you need to hunt for food or defend yourself.

But skill building is important for more than an emergent situation or immediate crisis. Knowing how to do some of the things we take for granted in this consumer-product-driven society can make daily life better in a protracted survival situation. And certainly, when you have skills, you are better able to put yourself in a position to barter for items you lack; you can trade goods and you can also trade services.

How skill building could help you if SHTF

As a natural part of my personality, I have always liked to learn to do things hands-on. But when I stop to think about it, much of what I have learned from others or taught myself has been driven by having that nagging feeling of uncertainty from time to time which all preppers are familiar with to varying degrees. The more self-sufficient we are, the better, right?

Take gardening. When we were deep in the great recession, I applied for and received a USDA grant to assist with putting up a very large high tunnel greenhouse. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was becoming a prepper. We are self-employed, and the drop in our income was significant during the recession. While we made it through mostly unscathed, at the time I was eager to get the high tunnel to be able to grow more of our own food in case things got worse. The high tunnel allows us to start plants earlier and keep them going later into the fall. In winter survival conditions, we could grow cool weather crops like carrots and salad greens in the high tunnel under floating row covers, which effectively drops the zone we are in from a Wisconsin zone 5 to more like a Georgia zone 7.

We also do traditional summer gardening outdoors, and dabble in hydroponics and straw bale gardening. All of these techniques require very different management for success, and learning them has made us more adaptable and prolific food growers.

I also have learned to keep bees, which helps the garden and gives us wonderful no-expiration barterable products: honey and beeswax. Another shelf-stable item I have learned to make that we could trade is maple syrup we make, thanks to the handful of very large old maple trees planted by my husband’s ancestors. I think the old-timers planted them for more than just shade—they were a small insurance policy against the possibility of tough times.

No easy way out

Is it work to do these things? Yes. I have a garden every year, and it is far from pristinely weeded. I don’t make maple syrup every year and there have been times I’ve been too busy to deal with honey so it sits in the frames and waits for me to process it. I’ve resigned myself to my imperfection and the fact that I can’t clone myself. But knowing I have the skills and equipment on standby is comforting in and of itself.

What do I do with all of the fruits of my labor? Sell some and preserve a lot. Thanks to the “buy local” movement, I sell a several hundred pounds of produce each year to the local grocery store and some of the small farm markets—which is very helpful since there are times everything seems like it is coming in at once! I registered as a farm as part of the grant process for the high tunnel. Since I am selling produce, I can also legitimately deduct some of my farming costs on my taxes, like seeds and seed-starting supplies (always helpful.) Will we get rich doing this? No, but we do save some money, which can be put toward other preps. I think of it this way: I am turning my tomatoes into ammo.

Preserving is kind of therapeutic for me as I imagine other sorts of stockpiling are to other people. Seeing all of the jars lined up with good things in them is satisfying and makes the labor and time spent worthwhile. Not being afraid to experiment with new techniques and recipes has expanded my knowledge, and increased the variety in my pantry. One of the essential components of thriving, in my mind, will be to have variety. It’s not only better for the body in terms of getting enough of the necessary nutrients and calories, but in a prolonged survival situation food takes on a greater psychological value in terms of boosting morale. Imagine living on spaghetti for dinner for thirty days versus having thirty days of spaghetti, beef stew, and navy bean soup. Without variety, you’re surviving but not necessarily thriving.

Speaking of variety, I have a ton of cookbooks, many of which pertain to fermenting and preserving. Although they take up a lot of space, I think they’re important to keep around, especially since our family hasn’t yet taken the step of getting a solar or wind energy system. There’s always the possibility that a smart phone might be useless for looking up ways of pressure canning everything in my freezer that is suddenly thawing due to a catastrophic grid failure. (Keeping a couple of cases of empty jars and lids on hand also takes up space, but could be very useful in such an event.)

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Items most people purchase rather than make that I have learned to produce successfully at home include sourdough bread, handmade pasta, wine and beer (including mead from our honey), wine vinegar, sauerkraut, and mustard. If you think about these products in particular, they are easy to make, and you could get by without refrigerating or canning them. Added to shelf stable items in my pantry (and what’s in the garden depending on the time of year) we will be eating like kings if things go south. Is it necessary as a part of prepping to make all of these things and keep them on hand? I don’t think so. But having some fermentation equipment available for when you need it is not a bad idea (you can ferment so many things as a preservation method) as is keeping things like yeast and flour in good supply.

Another skill I picked up over the years is knitting and crocheting. It was something I was always sort of interested in, and I finally just buckled down to learn it in my thirties. I would consider myself only an intermediate skill level, but I think if I were in a survival situation I could do things like make or repair simple garments or even make something useful in capturing food, such as a net or a rope.

One of the women in my knitting circle was a homesteader who raised meat animals for sale. As her daughter went off to college, she and her husband were short a worker for processing turkeys at Thanksgiving. I offered to help, and she let me, although I think she had her suspicions I would be grossed out. I found it to be a little rough at first, but then a natural rhythm set in and the gross factor dropped away. That experience led me to raising our own chickens, including meat birds. It was great to eat the eggs (and sell a lot of them!) and eat the meat knowing the birds were treated humanely. I now know what to do with a dead animal if we ever need to hunt for food, or if raising our own livestock becomes a necessity. Once again, skill building, even if it is not in your comfort zone, can truly benefit your quality of life in a survival situation. My garden is still benefiting from the chicken manure although we are taking a break from raising birds!

Soap-making is one of my more recent interests, which I am slowly turning into a small body-care business, with lotions and other products. This came about because I bought a beef quarter from the aforementioned farmer to fill my freezer, and the butcher asked me if I wanted the suet when I was telling him what cuts I wanted. At the time I thought I would make suet cakes for the wild birds, but little did I know how much I was going to get! I rendered it, poured it into plastic containers and froze it, and eventually decided to try my hand at soap. It is so much better than store-bought soap, I love the “kitchen chemistry” of it, and it is such fun to unmold it the next day and see how it turned out. In a survival situation, soap is one of those things that could be traded for something you don’t have, given how fast humans get to smelling bad!

Again, we are not “advanced” preppers yet, although we’ve always had some prepper tendencies. I must admit I am not super-skilled in the down and dirty survival stuff. But I have upped my game in two major areas in the last year: firearms and power tools. Those have been my husband’s domain until recently. I took a gun safety course last fall, and I learned to be more comfortable using a number of scary power tools last summer. I discovered in both cases, these potentially dangerous things are not that big of a deal as long as you pay attention and think about what you are about to do.

I would encourage anyone to step outside their comfort zone and at the very least get familiar with firearms. Even if you cannot envision ever using a gun to defend yourself, try to imagine that you could be in a situation someday where you have to pick a gun up and unload it just to neutralize it. Knowing how to check if a gun is loaded, empty it, and be sure it is empty is an important skill to have.

Knowing how to use common tools can make you more of an asset in an emergency or in a prolonged survival situation. If two people instead of one can operate a circular saw, for example, one can be cutting plywood while the stronger person nails the cuts up over the windows. If everyone in the group bugging out has fire-starting skills, one person can get the blaze started while the rest gather enough fuel for the night. Basically, extra working hands, not just helping hands, can make all the difference.

When you consider how this great nation was settled, both men and women had to have a number of skills to be able to build a homestead, make it through a harsh winter, or protect themselves and their property. There was more of a crossover between what was considered “men’s work” or “women’s work.” For example, in our family, my husband’s great uncle was an island lighthouse keeper in the late 19th/early 20th century, and knit all of the socks and mittens for the family.

Back in the day, people knew how to preserve more than just vegetables, and used every part of an animal from “nose to tail” because it served a purpose in daily life or for the future, not because of personal ethics, environmental purposes, et cetera. Prepping was part of life, because in the wilds of America, the S could hit the F on any given day and there would be no neighbors, and no government entity to help you out.

Those with no skills died, those with basic skills survived, and those with lots of different skills thrived. Those that thrived were able to settle the land, build wealth, and have strong, healthy heirs. Although I’m short-cutting the telling of history, our thriving forefathers and mothers passed on their legacies to subsequent generations, and thus America was built into the greatest nation on earth.

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I hesitate to use the word “Darwinian” to describe what I am getting at, but when you think about, it is evident that smart people with well-developed skill-sets who work hard applying their skills do better in life, and in turn they tend to pass on their genetics and knowledge to the next generation. (And here is why government handouts don’t actually help people at the low-end of the economic spectrum lift themselves out of poverty; handouts do not teach them anything they can use, and therefore they don’t learn to improve their own positions and pass that on to their children. But that’s another discussion altogether.)

What are my next skill building preps? One will be spending more time at the firing range getting comfortable with shooting. Also, my fermentation obsession is going to expand very soon into kombucha and lacto-fermented pickles of all sorts, especially since probiotics have been found to be extremely important for a healthy gut, and may help prevent any number of diseases. Good health is important to thriving, after all!

As a fellow prepper, I encourage everyone to pick up new skills or expand upon existing ones, and break out of gender molds. If you’re a man, although it might seem like “women’s work,” you may be surprised at how rewarding it is hearing your sourdough bread’s crust “sing” when you take it from the oven, or at how much your friends appreciate getting your homemade soap (future customers when the SHTF.) If you’re a woman, and power tools frighten you, find someone willing to show you how and try a beginner’s project, like a birdhouse or a Leopold bench. Soon you’ll be amazed to find yourself with the confidence to take care of things on that “honey do list” instead of nagging the old man!

Fair warning to both sexes: you might just get hooked, and new skills could become lifelong hobbies or obsessions. Since you have the prepping gene, it’s highly likely! But if the SHTF, you can rest assured by expanding your base, you and yours will not be living in mere survival mode. You will enjoy a better quality of life and have more creature comforts than your neighbors because you can do things yourself and/or barter to meet your needs—in other words, you’ll thrive!

  Preparedness means different things to different people. Some may be comfortable with just an emergency kit in their cars, while others stockpile ammo, food and toilet paper in a secret

Even though there’s not much to it, I get more questions about how to store food than anything else. It’s something that anyone who is serious about getting food storage needs to think about because if you’re investing your time and money into food, you want to make sure you’re storing it properly!

 

Our society seems to be so concerned about supersizing everything these days, EXCEPT for food storage. While closets have been expanded to fit every handbag in America, the pantry has been shriveling away, and in some homes, it’s practically non-existent. This is one reason, among many, that I LOVE buckets! They have come to the rescue, and have allowed people the option to supersize their food storage, while at the same time using little space.

What Can You Store in Buckets?

storing

You can store pretty much anything that is dry and sits on the shelf (except your cat, my brother tried), but look below for more ideas. Make sure to stay away from foods with high oil or sugar content; those need to be vacuum-sealed in jars.

I store 5 different type foods in my buckets that you can see below (the ones with the ***). I reserve my buckets for foods I use frequently and need more of. One rule I have that helps me stay organized and rotate my food is that I store each type of food in only ONE type of container. For instance, if I decide to store my flour in buckets, I DON’T then go store it in #10 cans, flour bags, etc. By storing food in one type of container it helps keep things rotating well in my food storage system.

For food items that I use less of, I store mainly in #10 cans – like my beans, popcorn, hot chocolate, and freeze-dried foods.  But if you use a lot of those items in your home, you might want to go ahead and use buckets.

Anyways, hopefully, that made some sense, just figure out a system that works best for you!

How Much Do You Need?

Now the fun part! You get to pull out your calculator and give your brain a workout. You first need to figure out how much food you want, then you can figure out how many buckets you’ll need!

Most bulk food you find is in 25 or even sometimes 50-pound bags. So if you needed 100 lbs of oats, you would need 5 buckets & 4 (25lb) bags of oats. Here’s some of the best estimates I could find, so figure out your plan and good luck with the math!

FOOD ITEM

#10 CAN

5 GALLON BUCKET

*** Wheat
5 lbs 37 lbs – (12 buckets)
*** Oats
2.5 lbs 20 lbs – (6 buckets)
*** Rice
5.3 lbs 36 lbs – (4 buckets)
*** Sugar
5.7 lbs 35 lbs – (6 buckets)
*** Flour
4.5 lbs 33 lbs – (8 buckets)
Popcorn
5 lbs 37 lbs
Macaroni
3.1 lbs 21 lbs
Beans
5.6 lbs 35 lbs
Brown Sugar
4.5 lbs 33 lbs
Powdered Milk
3 lbs 29 lbs

Options for Storing Food in Buckets:

There are various ways you can store food into buckets, but I’ll talk briefly about the top 3 and let you choose.

1- Do Nothing

This method involves just that, you don’t do anything. You just put the food in the bucket and put the lid on (ok, maybe you do a little). If you’re rotating through your food on a regular basis (probably at least every 5 years), then you can maybe get away with doing this. You need to make sure the bucket and lid you use are sealed on properly to keep as much air, light, and bugs out. The bucket only provides one layer of protection against the elements, so it’s not the most trusted way of storing food, especially long-term.

2- Dry Ice

This way is similar to using oxygen absorbers, but instead, you are using dry ice. It’s a little cheaper and can kill off insect eggs at the same time, but it can be somewhat tricky. You want to make sure it’s done properly so you don’t have the opposite effect and leave a puddle of water at the bottom of your bucket instead. You only need about 1 ounce of dry ice per 1-gallon container, so if you’re up for some experimenting and playing with dry ice, feel free to give it a try. I just didn’t want to take a chance on all the food I had just invested in!

3- Mylar Bags w/ Oxygen Absorbers

This is the method I prefer and the one the pros use. Most companies you buy pre-packaged buckets of food do it this way. Plastic buckets alone are slightly porous and will still allow for air to transfer through them. Using Mylar bags with buckets cuts the oxygen down to almost nothing, helping to preserve your food for 25+ years.

For instructions, look below.

Storing Food in Buckets w/ Mylar Bags:

Gather your supplies. If you’re feeling extra energetic and want to hunt down leftover buckets from bakeries, restaurants, grocery stores, you can get them for FREE! I’m lazy, and I like them to all look exactly the same, so I got most my stuff from the links below and from Baytec Containers.

 

1- Get Your Supplies:

  • BUCKETS – You want food grade buckets.
  • MYLAR BAGS – 20″ x 30″ bag
  • OXYGEN ABSORBERS – 2000 cc for a 5-gallon bucket
  • SEALER – You can use a hand-held sealer, iron, or flat-iron.
  • GAMMA LIDS – I use these only on my 5 buckets in the pantry.
  • REGULAR LIDS – I use these lids on all my buckets, except in the pantry.
  • RUBBER MALLET – Used to beat the lid on the bucket.
  • BUCKET OPENER – Helps take the lid off when you’re ready.
  • BULK FOOD – To fill your buckets.

 2- Put Your Mylar Bag into the Bucket:

I prefer 5-gallon buckets, but you can use smaller containers if that’s too heavy, or if you don’t need as much food. If you’re extra buff you can impress us and get 6+ gallon containers, just don’t say I didn’t warn you! They can get extremely heavy, so 5 gallon is my max.

Once you have your bucket, get a mylar bag that fits the size container you are using and put it inside. Mylar bags gives an extra layer of protection that keeps the oxygen, light, humidity, and pests out. Anytime someone tells me they had a bug infestation in their food I ask if they used a mylar bag and the answer is always NO, so don’t disregard these bad boys. These bags combined with the bucket, make it nearly impossible for critters to get in.

buckets

3- Put Food Into the Mylar Bag:

You may want a helper for this part, preferably not one dripping in ice cream ???? I’ve never had one, but I’ve dreamt about how I would boss one around, especially as I’m pouring 50 lb bags of food into mylar bags while trying not to spill it all on the floor! Maybe one day…

Anyways, fill the bag up as full as you can, just make sure to leave room so you can put the lid on!

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4- Add an Oxygen Absorber:

Do not add an oxygen absorber until you’re ready to seal! As soon as you open up a package of oxygen absorbers they start doing what they do best, absorbing oxygen. Make sure to have all your buckets ready to go with the mylar bags and food inside before you even think of opening the package up. As soon as they are opened, get ready to run around crazy throwing them into all your buckets. The goal is to have all your buckets sealed within about 10-20 minutes after opening the absorbers so they can have the maximum impact possible.

DO NOT USE OXYGEN ABSORBERS WITH SUGAR (unless you like eating bricks)

buckets21

*For a 5 gallon bucket use a 2000 cc oxygen absorber or you can use 5 of the 300 cc ones.

Size Container

 Oxygen Absorber Needed

Quart Jar or 32 oz container 100 cc
#10 can or 1-gallon container 300 cc
5 or 6 gallon bucket 1500cc – 2000cc

If you’re planning on using the leftover oxygen absorbers, you want to make sure you seal those back up ASAP. Often times I use the package they came in and re-seal it with my hand-held sealer, or you can repackage them in a vacuum-sealed bag, or store them in an appropriate sized canning jar with a tight-fitting lid. If possible, try to buy smaller packages of oxygen absorbers so they can be used all at once.

5- Seal the Mylar Bag

Once the bag is filled and the oxygen absorber is added, it’s time to seal the mylar bag. I went ahead and bought a hand-held sealer, which I love! Best birthday present I’ve bought myself so far.  You just go along the very top edge of the bag and melt the bag together to form an airtight seal. I leave a little opening at the end, squish as much air out as possible, and then finish sealing the corner.

img_18

You don’t have to wait until your birthday to buy yourself a hand-held sealer – a clothes iron, or even a flat-iron you use for your hair will do the trick. Just lay a board on top of the bucket, lay the bag on top, and iron away! You might want to cut a strip of the bag off to test beforehand to get the correct temperature setting, or if your impatient like I am, just go for it.

buckets3

Make sure your bag is completely sealed, you don’t want any air creeping in. If the temperature is too high it will destroy the strength of the bag, but if it’s too cool the seam will pull apart fairly easy.

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The bag may seem monstrous for the bucket, but that’s good.  If you seal close to the top edge of the bag (above is an awful example), you can cut right below the seal when you open it and REUSE the bag! It can be reused over and over again, all you need to replace is the oxygen absorber.

6- Beat the Lid in Place

You can try to tap the lid in place, but until you lose control and start beating the crap out of it, the lid isn’t going anywhere. This is a great project to do after you’ve walked in on your boys while they’re painting themselves to look like Darth Vader and giving their room a Death Star makeover!

img_0

Gamma vs Regular Lids: Which Lid Should You Use?

GAMMA LIDS – These twist on lids allow for easy access to the contents of your bucket which is one reason I prefer to put these on the buckets I have in my pantry. I can quickly twist the lid off to get the food out and then twist it back on. Some people put these on all their buckets, but the main issue is they are more expensive! They usually run about $4-6 more than regular lids, which can add up fast when buying 30+ buckets!

REGULAR LIDS – I prefer these for most my buckets because they are cheaper, stack easy, and create a good seal. If you are needing to get into your bucket often though, definitely go with the gamma lid if possible.

7- Label Buckets

I spent 2 hours peeling labels off my sister’s buckets, because we had to refill them and they needed a new year. After that, I had a brilliant idea! Instead of always needing to put a whole new label on, why not just put the year on some easy to remove tape. Ingenious, I know!!!

Since I already did the math and figured out what I want in each of my buckets, I went ahead and printed labels with the food item for each bucket.  I don’t plan on changing the contents of the bucket so I went ahead and made sure to tape it on good! The year is changing every time it’s re-filled though, so I put the year on a separate piece of tape! Now I won’t ever be scraping tape and labels off buckets again! Maybe it doesn’t look as nice, but at least it won’t take me 2 hours to change the date!

buckets

8 – Store in a Cool/Dry/Dark Place ????

Just like everything else, you want to store your food in the coolest, driest, and darkest place you can find. This is sometimes where you have to be creative and maybe even consider storing some under the bed. When storing, you want to make sure they’re off the ground (so air can flow underneath), and I’m told you don’t want to stack them more than 3 high (they might crack). I like to be a rebel, so mine are stored right on the carpet, and I stack mine 4 high! The biggest concern is making sure they don’t topple over on anyone, especially the kiddos. So whether you decide to follow the rules, or be a rebel, just make sure to be careful!

Opening Your Buckets:

If the bucket lid is new, you’ll need to pull the plastic part off around the lid. Once that is off, use the bucket opener to pry the lid off. Remember to cut as little of the mylar bag as possible if you plan on reusing it. I then take the bag out and pour the food into the corresponding bucket in my pantry.

buckets4

Using Your Food:

I have 5 buckets in my pantry, which contain ONLY the food I’m currently using. With these buckets, instead of the regular lid, I use the twist-on lids known as Gamma Seal Lids. Mine are all boring white, but you can be fun and get different colors to help keep them organized, or to just add some excitement to your pantry.

img_1

Other Options:

Some other options with storing food is putting multiple smaller mylar bags into one bucket. I don’t necessarily promote this method, because there’s a lot of wasted space and it’s hard to rotate, but I’ve had many people mention they do it.

I prefer to put smaller mylar bags of food into crates or boxes that allow for more bags and are easier to rotate.  These smaller mylar bags can be purchased from places like the LDS Canneries and are a great option to use for storing smaller quantities of food like –  brown sugar, powdered sugar, spaghetti, etc.

bucket

Don’t let me squish your ideas or creativity, have fun and come up with your own ways to super-size your food storage! Just make sure you share your ideas with the rest of us!!!

Is there a method or way you like to store food long-term?

Even though there’s not much to it, I get more questions about how to store food than anything else. It’s something that anyone who is serious about getting food storage

What will go first in a SHTF scenario?

I totally agree with all of you about the importance of storing food, water, medical supplies, knives, weapons, and ammo. What I see as a discrepancy is that some are forgetting about the ‘looting masses”. The idea of “trade” or barter resembling near what everyone thinks will happen,  wont exist for a long time. The looters will not have a lack of guns, ammo, knives, or food for at least 3 to 6 months and when that runs out, they will be stealing from every store that sells guns and ammo. Granted, the food will probably run out first because they are either too lazy or they aren’t smart enough to plant gardens or can their food if they do. The ones who weren’t prepared will be looting or killing for food and water.

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Medicine will run out after the pharmacies are looted dry. Drugs will be a hot commodity. Beer and liquor will last only as long as the looters allow. Paper money will be good for starting a fire. Rather than being in short supply, I believe that clothing will last a very long time just because the “looters” will be going from home to home and taking what they want and there are so many clothing stores. If they run out of bullets, they might try to trade for it. Silver and gold might hold some value but we have to remember that any place that sells or trades precious metals will be on their list to knock off. Wedding rings, diamonds, ear rings, gold teeth, or necklaces will be stolen from the less fortunate.

Gas will only last for a very limited time, even with the proper additives and stored properly. Diesel will last longer and there are many homes that have “fuel oil” heat that can be used in diesel vehicles. I’m not sure what the life expectancy of propane is. That will run out also.

Everything will run out eventually

Do I sound like the “grim reaper”? Sorry. Just trying to keep it real. If you’re going to prepare, Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Preparing like you are going on a camping trip and being caught in a real major TEOTWAWKI catastrophe is going to leave you a statistic. You won’t be any better off than those who didn’t prepare. In my opinion trying to survive alone is the worst case scenario and is not an option. The “looters” won’t come around knocking at your door and asking if you can help them and they won’t be alone.

If you want my opinion, get as much ammo as possible and learn to reload. Start growing your own food, collect water from natural sources and learn skills now that can help you protect your home or bug out location. You also need to get as many like-minded people with skills to join you. The only people to consider are those that you can trust and know will have your back no matter what.

It’s always a good idea to have the 5 basic weapons. There is another posting on here for that. Having the ammo and the skills to use those firearms are just as important as having them in the first place. I would like to add 1 more, the air rifle. To be exact, you should consider an Adult Air Rifle. Don’t discount its possibilities. It can save your life in more than one way.

Nothing brings a person to his or her knees like a dental emergency – be it an infection, a lost filling, or fractured tooth.

Having extra seeds to plant your garden (or trade) is or can be a life saver. Buying the right seeds are just as important. Heirloom seeds are seeds that are taken from mature vegetables. They will grow the same plants and give you the same vegetables year after year. You can also use those same seeds to trade or plant new stock.

Fishing and hunting skills are necessary by someone in your group and could prove not only to save you, your family, and group, but to barter with if you have a “good day” and can’t preserve it. You don’t need expensive fishing poles and reels. You don’t need a lot of lures. You will need hooks, sinkers, and bobbers. Remember, you’re not trying to win a fishing tournament; you’re trying to supply food. Small fish taste just as good as or better than big ones. Nets, fish traps, trout lines, hand lines and a stick with a string, hook, and worm will catch you a meal.

Rain catchment barrels are a must. They can give you many gallons of water even in a small rain fall. The water still needs to be purified but a simple boil can make it ready for drinking. I would strongly suggest getting food grade barrels and converting them to your gutters. There are many YouTube videos on how to do this. Very easy and very cheap.

 

The final piece of equipment I would strongly recommend is an M-67 Immersion heater. They can heat your water for showers, heating food, and cleaning dishes and they are not expensive. (under $200) You will need a metal trash can (35 gallon or larger) and PLEASE, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS. It runs off of gas, diesel, kerosene, or any flammable liquid.

What will go first in a SHTF scenario? I totally agree with all of you about the importance of storing food, water, medical supplies, knives, weapons, and ammo. What I see

Disasters and emergency situations are a part of our lives. You may not plan on getting lost in the wilderness while heading out on adventure plans, but it can happen to any of us. You may lose your way or get in an accident and end up in the wilderness.

Now, it is all about how you respond to such a situation that plays a significant role in your survival. With the right skills and knowledge, your chances of surviving the emergency situation will be high. Having a positive attitude will greatly increase your chances of finding solutions to problems that can occur in a survival situation. The key is to put your knowledge to use and create your master plan for survival in the wilderness.

While it is nice to have all the tools, food and water along with you, you may lose your basic survival kit and would have to survive the emergency situation with nothing except the tools in our head. No matter how scared and alone you may feel, optimism makes a big difference and impacts your ability to handle the survival situation.

This article is about all the skills you need to learn and remember that can help save your life in any wilderness survival situation. Having a working knowledge of these skills will improve your ability to survive in the wilderness drastically. You may not have any equipment with you, but with the right knowledge of the below-mentioned skill you will still do fine.

This survival guide ensures that you are physically and mentally prepared to face any situation without any tools with you and help yourself at all times. Learning these skills can help you make it through most dangerous survival situations and bring you back home safely.

There are a number of skills but the seven survival skills mentioned below are the most basic ones that you should be mastering first because these are the skills that will help keep you safe for a longer time until you are rescued.

Making Fire

It is important to keep the wind direction and the surrounding area in mind when trying to start a fire.

The first survival skill you must know is how to make a fire. Knowing how to build a fire that burns through the night is crucial. Fire provides you heat, light and smoke keeps you warm and comforts you during the night. You can use it to cook food, purify water, as a signal for help, as a source of light, to see in the dark, make tools and also for keeping critters away. It also creates a sense of security and safety.

When traveling in the wilderness, it is always better to carry a few fire-starting tools like lighter, matches, firesteel, etc.  You could also light a fire with the help of eyeglasses, water bottles, and cell phone batteries. In case you do not have any of these available then fire by friction is the most effective technique that you can use.

There are various other methods of starting a fire with a bow drill, flint, and steel, fire plow, fire saw, hand drill, etc., depending on what resources you find around you. It is important to keep the wind direction and the surrounding area in mind when trying to start a fire. Make the fire away from hanging branches, stumps, logs, dry grass, and leaves as it could turn out to be dangerous.

Finding and Purifying Water

Finding water will be mostly dependent on the surroundings you are in.

The next most important priority is water. Finding and purifying water is of primary concern in a wilderness survival situation. The best sources for drinking water in a wilderness are springs, headwater streams, and morning dew. You can find water by following the sound of a flowing river or grazing animals.

Finding water will be mostly dependent on the surroundings you are in. Large plastic bags can draw water from tree leaves; you can tap a tree to get some water. Dew on the grass is another brilliant source of water; you can collect water by running a piece of cloth through the grass. In the desert area, you can find water by digging up a dry creek bed. Stagnant water is not suitable for drinking even if you boil it.

Once you have found water, purifying it is another task. You can purify water by either boiling or filter it.

If you have a fire then boiling is the best way to purify water. Even if you don’t have a container to put water in, you can heat up some rocks, drop them into the water and let it boil for 2-3 minutes.

For filtering, allow the water to stand till the mud settles to the bottom and then you can use any cloth to strain out remaining silt.

Building Shelter

You can collect materials that could be put together as a rough shelter to help you get through until help reaches you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You are going to need a shelter at some point until you are rescued. You should at least carry a tarp in your kit, if not a tent. A tarp could be a lifesaver when stuffed with leaves or grass as a barrier from the wind, snow or rain. In case you lose your bag, you can build your shelter as long as you can collect materials that could be put together as a rough shelter to help you get through until help reaches you.

Being able to build a shelter is vital in a wilderness survival situation. You need to consider the location before planning to build a shelter. A good survival shelter must block all the outside elements and protect you from the ground, freezing temperatures, heat, winds that insulate cold or heat, snow, driving sleet and rains.

There are various kinds of natural shelters to consider such as caves, hollow stumps, and logs. You can also build shelters such as a debris hut, lean-to, scout pit, snow shelter, etc., The type of shelter depends on the supplies available to you. The debris hut is the most practical and easiest to construct in almost any environment.

Finding Food

If you do not have any food with you, you will have to find something to eat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food might not top the survival essentials list, but it is equally important as you will start to lose strength if you do not eat for a long time.  It is wise to keep a small container of olive oil as it is packed with a huge amount of calories and can be used for other things as well. But if you do not have any food with you, you will have to find something to eat. Fishes, small animals, plants, and berries are some options that you can look for in the wilderness.

Most of the natural environments are filled with all these and various other foods. If you are around a lake or a river, fishing could be the best option in any survival situation. Hunting small animals with snare traps could also be considered if placed at the right spot.

Plants are another natural and best options that can satisfy your hunger during survival. But it is very important to identify any plant you plan to consume. Do not eat unless you are not sure about the plant as many plants can be poisonous. The best and readily available options are acorns from Oak tree, nut and inner bark from Pine tree, stalk, root and tuber from the Cattail of the grass.

Paracord Use and Paracord Knots

There are extensive uses of this survival tool like building shelter, making fire bow, snares, fishing lines, and stringer, securing an animal, building raft, ladder, etc.

Paracord is a very important survival tool that should always be kept handy. It is made of nylon, and it gives incredible strength and durability that can accomplish a variety of tasks. It is made in a braided form and can hold up to 550 pounds of weight. It is quick drying and resistant to rotting.

Paracord could be used in almost any wilderness survival situation. Paracord can be used intact, or the inner strands of it can also be separated and used for any work. There are extensive uses of this survival tool like building shelter, making fire bow, snares, fishing lines, and stringer, securing an animal, building raft, ladder, etc.

There are some cool Paracord projects that you can try yourself.

Paracord also has many uses in first aid and can be used as a signaling tool as well. All these abilities make paracord a powerful weapon.

Paracord Knot tying is another essential skill in survival techniques. It is a fast & easy way to make a quick safety harness. There is a kind of knot for every survival situation. There are numerous ways of tying paracord knots but taut-line hitch, figure eight knot, square knot, clove hitch and bowline are the most important and widely used paracord knots in any survival situation.

Self Defense

Self-defense is another very important skill in any wilderness survival situations. It is always recommended to carry a few tools or some weapon with you like a knife or pocket saw or any other sharp object that you can protect yourself with. If you do not have any of these, then you can probably make a weapon with the resources and materials available to you. You can find many potential weapons in the wilderness.

Self-defense weapons could be anything like a sharpened stick, branch, or a club or bow and arrow or an axe or simply a piece of rock. You can make a war club or an axe by using a sharp rock and a branch of the tree. All these could be a defensive weapon even in the most untrained hands in survival situations.

If you are at risk from any animal, do not panic or run away from it. It is better to face the animal and get away from it slowly. Throw anything that you can find at it. In case the animal attacks you, try to block its mouth with your non-dominant hand and smash its snout or directly hit it in the eye. Once the animal is temporarily disabled, run to find something that you can hide in. Arm yourself with any sharpened object that you can attack the animal with.

Learn to Communicate

Survival is your priority, but you also need to be rescued. One of the skills required in any survival situation to be rescued is to communicate. Communication is the key, and proper signaling plays an important role. Signaling is drawing attention. The rescuer must be able to recognize your signals and so you need to know effective communication skills.

Considering some wilderness places might not have cell coverage, you can use the following ways to communicate.

  • Construct unnatural objects that do not sync with the surrounding area and are easily noticeable. Use colors, materials, and shapes that can draw the rescuer’s attention.
  • A mirror can be used to reflect during the day. Aluminum foil, watches, silver parts on credit cards or anything shiny can also be used.
  • At night flares, torch and flashlights work best.
  • You can build a signal fire at a certain height in an open space and keep it ready to be lit instantly as you notice any plane or a helicopter.
  • A wave is considered as a signal to not land. Instead, form your arms in a “Y” shape indicating that you need help.
  • Wave your arms or a t-shirt attached to a branch of a tree vigorously; your movement will be noticeable.
  • Radio is surest and fastest way of communication. Learn how to operate and be familiar with the radios in your unit.
  • Whistles are another sure communicating tool that can be heard from far away. Always try to carry a whistle with you or learn how to whistle.
  • If you’re moving, it is better to leave some things behind as a signal at prominent clearings.

By maintaining a positive attitude and with the help of the above survival techniques you can not only successfully survive any wilderness situation but also you can get yourself out safely. For any situation Prepare, Adapt and overcome is the key to succeeding.

Disasters and emergency situations are a part of our lives. You may not plan on getting lost in the wilderness while heading out on adventure plans, but it can happen

The Pro’s & Con’s of Perennials

One of the benefits of going with perennials is that they’re largely a one-time investment. Some may only last a handful of years or a decade, but most will give us 20-50 years or whole lifetimes of production once they get started.

The flip side of that is that most perennials require at least a year or two to establish, many 4-10 years, and fruit/nut perennials could need 10-20 years before they start producing a reasonable yield. A lot of the fruiting perennials are one-offs per year, as well. There are some with longer harvest seasons, but it’s not like an annual garden where in some cases we have the potential to plant four different things in a space per year, and tree and shrub fruit isn’t usually like lettuces or spinach that we can repeatedly harvest from the same plant.

On the other hand, once they’re established, most perennials don’t really need us a whole lot, unlike annuals, and trees need us even less than smaller shrubs and perennial plants. Perennials can be highly multi-function, with additional roles such as nitrogen fixation that can improve soils around them, soil stabilizing roots, pollinator habitat and food sources, livestock fodder or forage in the form of green limbs and leaves or tree hay, and medicinal value. Some can be coppiced or selectively pruned to provide us with kindling, rocket stove fuel and mulching chips.

Here I’ll stay away from trees like apples and plums that are so commonly grafted and are super susceptible to diseases and pests. They tend to need us, and they tend to be pretty recognizable. Instead, we’ll look at some other options. Most of the ones I’ll recommend are largely free of pests.

I’ll come back to the ones that can be a little less obvious as food production in another article as well. Right now, here’s a look at my top five perennials preppers should consider, selected as such due to their climate versatility, ornamental aspects, health, versatility for all stages of preparedness, and highly multi-functional landscape and production roles: pea shrub, oak, willow, wild plums, and crabapples.

Pygmy peashrub can easily fit into even small urban and suburban gardens and homes.

Pea Shrub

Pea shrub is one of the more controversial plants that we increasingly see due to permaculture’s spreading interests.

Many types of livestock can consume the leaves and pods of pea shrub, providing a fodder or forage plant that can sometimes be lacking in the cooler climates. It’s also a habitat builder for small game and small birds, and beneficial predatory insects. Because it can survive in some pretty gnarly climates and ugly soils (thin, compacted, stripped out) it’s an excellent nurse crop or soil retention and rebuilding crop for mismanaged lands, drylands, and cool or cold climates. As a nitrogen fixer, it’s ideal for production alongside trees and larger shrubs with high needs, especially those that can use the N boost later in the growing season (it takes part of the season for the legumes to start producing excess nitrogen, even the perennials).

Peashrub offers great variety in use, tolerant of manicuring to a shaped hedge or blending into a freeform native patch – both hiding food or resource production in plain sight.

It’s happier in part shade than in full sun, which makes it an excellent addition for base shrubs against a northern or eastern wall and alongside established trees.

It’s one of the few where instead of a cold-hardy ceiling, we’re bounded instead by heat. Siberian pea shrub can handle zones up to 8 if there’s water, but many varieties will only go up to 6 or 7.

Warmer areas (7-8, sometimes 6 by variety) will find less flowering with some varieties, which means fewer of the pods we can consume and feed livestock green, the tender green seeds, and the dry peas. Shaded areas can help combat this. Even at its warmer limits, it produces foliage well, with that foliage an excellent addition to our tree hays as well as nutrient-rich mulch that we can use to overwinter strawberries or cover our garden beds.

Oaks

Oaks produce acorns, although there’s more to that story than some might think. Acorns come in a number of sizes and shell thicknesses, which increases and decreases their ease for human consumption or the livestock and wildlife that can make use of them. Oaks also tend to produce in cycles, although the cycles can vary widely, from those that grow and mature the nuts in a single year, to those that might take 2-3 years to drop harvests. Some have the same boom-bust cycles found in other nut and fruit trees.

There’s an oak that can be found for every zone, 3-9 at least, with most zones having multiple species native or compatible. Oaks also cover a wide, wide range of soils and precipitation. This site http://www.wildlifegroup.com/shop-for-hardwoods/ is a sale site, but I keep it handy as a reference for oak types, from their size to their zones, soil and climate needs, to production cycles.

Oaks come in a huge variety, from leaf shape to acorn size and shape, to the climates and conditions they’ll thrive in and their cycles of production.

Oaks can create some challenges due to the jugalone they produce and the high-tannin highly acidic leaves they drop, as well as the dense shade they produce, but there are plenty of native fruits and nuts in oak forests, and even some domestic crops and ornamental edibles that can share space with them, from blueberries to paw-paw. We can also mow the leaf drop annually to mulch over annual gardens and berries that like acidity, or create leaf mold.

A number of yarrows, reed grasses, lilacs, wild-type buckwheats (Californian, coastal, Suzi’s red), woodland and mock strawberry, lavender, lupines, Californian coffeberry/buckthorn, verbena, sages, sorrel, bunching fescue-type grasses, and others can grow in close association with oaks. They allow us to create a naturalized setting or a very ornamental one, with food production for humans as well as medicinal and herbal plants, and pollinator and nurse plants all in the same area. With tailoring, they can create managed free-range grazing for birds raising their own nests, goats, and other species; small game or game bird habitat for increased hunting in cities, suburbs or rurals; and harvested-fodder from grains to soft legumes to fruits and foliage for livestock.

Willow

From the ability to make small-batch or large-plot propagation-rooting and garden-transplant boosting “tea” to the ones that can help with pain management, willow is a pretty well-known function, resource, and survival tree.

We can use its leaves as medicinal feed for most livestock, or regularly supplement with it for goats and rabbits, even chickens, and turn it into tree hay. Wands can be woven for window covers and floor mats, baskets and chair seats, and used as natural ties in some forms of construction, from plant trellises and cages to fish traps and boxes. Its rapid growth enables us to turn it into living fences and hedges with relative speed and ease. We can even use some species to help us “mop up” seasonally or annually boggy areas to allow other plants a better shot at growing.

Willow is adaptable to trimming and pruning to hedges, domes, arches, living fences, and small shrubs, increasing its versatility in small lots as well as large homesteads.

Overhanging ponds, creeks and rivers, willow creates excellent habitat for game birds as well as fish, and it can help stabilize banks. As with use in open yards, it can help create a flood and high-rain buffer, soaking up incredible amounts of moisture, especially as a coppiced hedgerow backed by larger trees. Willow’s absorption powers can also help create a buffer between waste-generating systems like livestock manure, outdoor kennels and pet wastes, overflowing septic systems, and runoff from composting toilets or outhouses, and nearby veggie patches or waterways (look up algal blooms for the impact on fishing and waterways).

Willow makes an excellent resource and function tree, creating shade and habitat, fodder, and wands for various uses.

Bees and other pollinator and predatory insect species use its pollen extensively. The catkins (flowers) provide a very early season nectar flower for pollinators when not much else has started blooming.

As with oaks, there’s a willow for nearly every climate. Some willows excel in a few key functions far more than others, so some research into variety can help us.

Crabapples come in a variety of sizes, flavors and textures, with varying degrees of palatability.

Wild Plum & Crabapples

Chickasaw is by far my favorite wild plum, but it’s somewhat limited as to region. Like oaks and willows, in most of the U.S. and Canada – as well as Europe – there is a wild plum that is native to our area, or from a region that very closely mimics our conditions. Those will almost always be more successful than something we’re trying to force into our conditions.

Chickasaw plum

Wild sandhill plum

Wild plums are highly, highly variable. Not only do varieties change hugely in fruit size, texture, and flavor, those fruits can regularly change tree-to-tree, climate-to-climate, season-to-season –even within a small yard’s space, due to microclimate. Some make larger fruits that, while pretty tart, are readily consumed raw and have enough fruit around the pit to be worth it. Some produce tiny fruits. Some really have to be juiced and turned into jelly with lots of sweetness added.

Crabapples tend even further toward the “needs processing” side of the line, but sometimes a hybrid or cultivar can be found that isn’t too bad fresh or only baked, or can be aged in cool storage like a Braeburn apple or mayhop to totally sweeten the flavor and soften the texture.

Wild plums and crabapples have a number of uses even with the drawbacks.

They tend to be hardier and a little more resistant to the diseases our domestic rubus fruits face. In some cases they might act as a carrier for pest and disease, but in many cases, the wild cousins can actually help us by forming a “windbreak” of sorts, except for pests. Pests and disease carriers hit them, and the wild fruits keep the disease or insect from jumping from apple to peach to plum to roses to berry brambles.

Wild plums and crabapples tolerate heavy pruning and pleaching, providing the potential of food, fodder, and cross-pollination for domestics in any environment.

They can also regularly serve as cross-pollinating partners for domestics. Wild cousins tend to also be broken into early, mid and late seasons, but they regularly have much longer flowering seasons. As a result, if we lose an ideal partner, our wild cousins may be close enough to fill that role not just for one cultivar, but for several.

Wild plums are highly variable in fruit size and flavor, with a long flowering period that results in longer harvest periods.

The extended flowering translates into extended fruiting as well, whereas domestics tend to have a 2-4 week window for harvest, by variety. Wild plums and crabapples can be ripening for as much as a 2-3 month period. That can let us spread out the workload, help cover gaps if we missed the harvest season due to injury or a travel, and it can allow us to harvest some of the later fruits or earlier fruits, and run livestock under them for the rest.

Just like domestic apple and plum limbs can be fed in small amounts green or larger amounts when cut and dried for hay, so can wild cousins. The cousins tend to be lower, bushier and even faster-growing, which can increase the ease and amount of fodder harvests.

Some wild plums are thorny, like pea shrub can be, and the woody trunks and branches have the ability to form living fences with the bonus of harvests.

Crabapples share the hedge-tolerant and woody growth advantages. Both also create habitat for edge-dwelling wildlife like quail and rabbits, increasing hunting capabilities whether we’re using a pellet gun in the ‘burbs or a low-load saboted .30-06 on a large spread.

Mixed crabapple hedge

Perennial Foods

There can be some huge benefits to creating a food forest and forage meadow around our homes. Even if we don’t own homes or don’t own much land, we might consider picking up a hardhat and road guard vest, and putting in some perennial shrubs and trees near us, or indulging in some seed bombs (do NOT throw invasives like bishop’s weed or kudzu anywhere; in fact, stick to wild edibles that are native to your area or the habitat-building natives that increase edible wildlife).

In many cases, the plants we choose can be beautiful and provide other services like shade and pest insect reductions, while giving us a resilient, permanent backup food source should we need it. They can provide feed for livestock, or they can create habitat and food sources to increase our game populations. Whether we’re rural or renting, increasing game means increasing food sources.

Planting natives is becoming ever more popular, so they’re increasing in availability. To fill in the areas around these perennials – and any others – look to not only the native species around you, but also to some of the nostalgia fruits like gooseberry, chokecherry and garden huckleberry that fewer folks recognize these days, and natives from similar areas or foods from Africa, Asia and South America that put up with inclement climates and are equally less known such as teff, amaranth, Asian yams, and quinoa. They tend to have fewer U.S. and Canadian pests, and can help make sure we’re the ones harvesting, not passersby.

The Pro’s & Con’s of Perennials One of the benefits of going with perennials is that they’re largely a one-time investment. Some may only last a handful of years or a