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Food storage has generated a lot of controversy over the decades and will do so over the next decades if SHTF fails to arrive.
How do you tell if someone is a vegan? They tell you!!!

[Disclaimer: I have been a vegan for the last five years and I was a vegetarian for twelve years prior to that].

Meat canning/storing is not my thing nor my focus. That said I have zero intent to be 100% vegan in SHTF but frankly the concept of not being mainly vegan in SHTF for everyone who is prepping is likely unachievable and unhealthy. In SHTF I plan on eating meat, fish, and eggs but not dairy other than goat cheese (I am serious anti-casein- the protein in dairy). In fact I would eat anything to avoid starvation in SHTF and I plan to.

I store what I want to eat and so should everyone. This article is just looking at my specific case and specific circumstances here outside Toronto. Obviously if you live in warmer climes you can plan on a mixed farm and enjoy fats from pork and cattle. This would not really work in an area with a growing season of six to seven months maximum so here are my thoughts on long-term food storage issues in places like Canada.


Living in Canada one thing I always worried about when storing food for SHTF was fat (fat is oil). I am nowhere near walrus or seal meat so what could I do? Nuts are a possible idea and certainly I have black walnut and acorn near at hand and have experimented with both as a source of fat as well as protein. They take time, effort, and knowledge. Harvesting might be dangerous or impossible depending on the scenario. Squirrels and rodents I should be able to get but they have little to no usable fat. Same with deer but I think they will be very rare near any city for years after SHTF.

Carrington Farms Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Storing nuts and oil seems pointless given the really short shelf life of both. Of course, with notice, I’d hit Costco and buy bulk cooking oil, olive oil, and nuts but five years into SHTF those supplies would be gone or be rancid.

My answer is currently storing coconut oil. Not just any coconut oil but extra-virgin. A little goes a long way in supplying calories and essential fats. Storage is as simple as buying a small bottle or tub (I prefer glass) and placing one in each 5 gallon bucket.

How long does coconut oil last?

This supply can be used and stored relatively easily in most temperatures provided you keep the container size small. Once opened it will go rancid the same as other sources of fat. It can be frozen, heated, and repeat without any issues provided the container is unharmed.

The link above also gives useful information on telling if the coconut oil has gone off. I had expired peanuts and experimented with various methods of cooking and spicing to get rid of the horrible taste. Nothing worked. Expired oil is truly awful!


This is worth storing in small amounts. Nothing like a tin of SPAM added to white rice and beans for taste and protein in the apocalypse. Yet really the amount of protein should be very, very small. The SAD (Standard American Diet) truth is most people eat far too much protein for their own health. Excessive protein leads to kidney failure and a lot of other avoidable diseases.

Protein for me is in the category of condiment or small requirement. I mean small here! In SHTF one tin of tuna would be added to one week’s worth of meals per person. Would this make me as weak as a vegan? In SHTF I hope so and you can look up how weak vegan athletes are yourselves. As an ex-ultarmarathoner I can tell you most endurance athletes long ago went vegan or vegetarian.

Most of my added protein would come from beans and quinoa. Long term they are easily stored and reasonably priced. Quinoa in bulk is often available at Costco for $34 Canadian. Yet honestly protein from my garden will supply almost all of my needs and protein is the least important issue in SHTF yet the one many preppers are storing the most aggressively. They would be healthier and better off financially storing kale seeds!


I do not use sugar and have not for years. Still I like to think about my preps and it dawned on me a few bags of sugar would actually make a lot of sense in SHTF. A bit added to flour really helps the taste of bread and it is very cheap and stores easily. Again most of my carbohydrates would come from the garden and home-grown potatoes are wonderful! For storage I have lots of white rice and some pastas. This area I am not very worried about.

Of course being Canadian I also store maple syrup which is the best carbohydrate in the world, eh! I have spiles and tubes (food grade) to harvest maple syrup in SHTF once the ability to move around becomes safe. Anyone living near maple trees really needs to think on this and also other sap trees.

Smart Long Term Stores

Can you sprout? It is very easy and very helpful in many SHTF scenarios. Make sure you can do it and have the equipment to do it daily in SHTF. Why not store grains and seeds long-term that you can eat, sprout, and plant? This is as easy as buying organic chia seeds (they need clay pots for sprouting) and putting them in a Mylex™ bag inside some of your food buckets. Most dried beans are easier to cook and healthier to eat after sprouting for a couple of days.

Pink Gourmet Himalayan Salt

Vitamin C is a key ingredient for us all to live a good and healthy life. Storing it is an issue. Sure have lots of vitamin tablets but consider canning or strong lime and lemon juices. I cannot grow oranges up here but if you can then start now. I plan on using apples a lot in SHTF and storing blackberries and raspberries. These skills will be essentially long-term in SHTF so I have started now. Basic good quality bottles of jam is another essential and smart long-term storage item that I’d have in every food bucket. I cannot stand marmalade but I can added it to white rice easily enough so I store marmalade.


I am guessing everyone has salt but what about iodine? Those of us who live a long way from the ocean or on land that never was ocean will become iodine deficient in SHTF. Is your salt also a supply of iodine? It needs to be unless you live near the ocean.

I add very little salt to my diet at present but I have a small package of iodized salt in all my buckets for long-term use. I am expecting convenience foods to disappear in SHTF and the large and excessive amounts of added salt we all eat at present will be a memory. Plan for a lot of salt and make it iodized. If you check your preps and it is sodium chloride with nothing else listed and/or does not say “Iodized Salt” then put that aside and use for barter.

Dried Spices

Pepper, garlic, onion, turmeric, etc. are all easily available and store well enough for years If you have not put one in each of your storage buckets you might regret it after a year or more of living off your stored rice and beans. You can also store a lot of small plastic bags (UK coin bags are great for this) and divide up very small amounts for barter in SHTF. There are many spices available and buy one each time you shop. Variety is the aim once salt and pepper are dealt with. Hot spices are great but bottles tend to go off over time so grab handfuls at fat food places. Put them in a Mylex™ bag with lots of oxygen absorbers as their packaging is fast food not apocalyptic! Basil and arugula should be available to you via seeds as should mustard. A quick survey of your local area would find many greens available that will spice up food and help you stay healthy. Purslane and Dandelion are weeds for me but a snip them frequently to add to my salads now. Avoid harvesting near rods, polluted rivers, and dog walking areas!

stockpiling challenge


What do you store as long-term food and why? If you mess this up there’s no quick trip to Costco’s available in SHTF to fix it. Take a hard look at what you have now and think about how you will use it in SHTF. Can you make different textures and flavors easily? Will this food supply vitamins, fiber, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins in variety? Can the food stored be easily extended by wild foraging and/or gardening? When you open it will you be using the entire amount before it goes bad? Sure 5 gallons of X in the bucket makes you feel secure but can you use all 5 gallons before it goes rancid? Pack small Mylex™ bags inside the big buckets so you have both choice and shelf life after opening.

Hopefully my errors and mistakes here will get picked up in the comments section. I am not going to explain or justify my current diet nor why I feel casein is not a great thing to eat. This is about food storage and SHTF not current nutrition! Bon appetite!

  Food storage has generated a lot of controversy over the decades and will do so over the next decades if SHTF fails to arrive. How do you tell if someone is

A great deal can go into site planning for your survival homestead, even when the infrastructure is already in place and funds don’t exist to renovate lines or move buildings. Where we place things can increase or decrease our defensive abilities, success in growing, and how likely we are to see something – which can be good or bad. It can also hugely impact the efficiency of a site, whether it’s a small suburban or urban lot or a large rural retreat. While more space creates more options, planning for efficiency has major merits for any size site. When things are more efficient, they require less work to maintain. Whether that work is manual or powered, using less time, labor and resources frees up our abilities elsewhere, allowing us to do more.

Site Planning Factors for your survival homestead

The three most important factors in site planning for efficiency are arguably access, sun, and water. They are equally important, although when aspects like defense and drought resilience come into play one or another may take more precedence. There are variable levels of importance within factors as well. For example, access for ease and convenience might drop to the bottom of a list, but access for maintenance should stay near the top.

Cattle on silvopasture – Trees can be saw logs, firewood, forage/fodder or fruit and nut trees in a rotational pasture system that creates shade and stacks the functions taking place on a piece of land, creating a more efficient use of that land.


Sunlight plays a lot of roles in our lives, far more than just which plants will be successful – and where. Sunlight can be manipulated to create passive heating and cooling, such as using deciduous trees to shade greenhouses, coops, homes and windows, and livestock in silvopasture. Shading even just the entrance of a cellar can help dramatically reduce the amount of heat-cool transfer while loading it during harvest season. Shading can also significantly reduce moisture loss. On the flip side, opening canopies can not only increase availability of sunlight for plants during winter, it can help us dry up spring-bog areas and provide free lighting.

Using sun and shade to create passive heating and cooling by combining livestock and deciduous trees with a greenhouse, or locating coops and hutches beneath trees.


When we look at shading, a lot of times we only look at trees, but buildings, fences, and walls come into play as well. One rule of thumb is to place the tallest things on a site to the north in the northern hemisphere, to allow the most light through. However, if we want that shading factor to limit our irrigation or keep our rabbits breeding longer without running fans, we can play with them, interspersing buildings and alleys of pasture to create the best fits for our needs.

Another school of thought – especially in areas heavy on buildings and trees – is to group tall things together and slope mature heights to create either a peak effect (tallest in a central area) or a valley effect (tallest things on the rims sloping down to the center).

All three have their pro’s and con’s, and the slope of land, amount of irrigation, soil types, and purposes or function of the land play a big role in deciding which works best for us.

If you are building a survival homestead, take advantage of the sun’s natural path to position your home most effectively.


Something to remember is that sunlight changes through the year and by location, with summer and winter, extreme elevations, and distance from the equator affecting not only the track the sun takes in our skies, but also the intensity of the light – light quality, compared to light quantity. Even quantity comes with some wiggle room. “Full” sun is about 6-8 hours of direct light, but 8-10 hours of diffused light works too, unless the quality of light is low the way it is during winter in the middle and upper latitudes.

Water for your homestead

Water is one of the basic necessities of life. Manually hauling water sucks big time, and so does hand pumping water if mechanical systems fail. Ideally we plan our site so that things with the greatest volume needs are nearest the pumps and catchment systems.

When we’re accounting for high-volume needs we need to take into account our own varied uses such as laundry, cooking, and cleaning our homes as well as direct consumption. Livestock, young trees, and crops also require water. The closer they are to a water source, the less time and labor (of any kind, manual or mechanical) is needed to provide that water for them. We also want to bear in mind year-round needs, as opposed to seasonal like a garden with three months of growing season.

There are two types of water catchment systems that can decrease the need for pumping water – passive and active. Studying the sheep and cattle stations of the Australian outback, especially at the turn of the century, can provide a number of examples of how people survive near-desert conditions using active and passive water catchment systems.

Active catchment includes things like water barrels and buckets, which can be highly complex or pretty darn simple, or rain-filled water catchment on towers and roofs – both of which then disperse water through lines via gravity. Another example of an active catchment includes old-style towers that are filled by pumping, but then provide a gravity-fed reservoir for use during dry periods.

There are all kinds of passive water systems, some of them overlapping with the sunlight and wind vectors that we take into account as incoming and outgoing factors on a site. Some of the most common passive water-catchment and water-conservation systems include:

  • Simple low spots or dug swales that increase the infiltration of water by slowing its loss, making water available longer after a rain.
  • Ponds
  • Hugel-type, lasagna-type and Eden Gardening style growing beds with layers of material that absorb water and release it slowly
  • Gabion-style and stacked stone walls and fences that create drip-back microclimates by condensing evaporation on the underside and lee of the stone
  • Trees and shrubs planted to block and filter drying winds from the north and west or block sunlight and provide shade during the hottest hours (usually 1-4 p.m.)


Arranging things for ready access is arguably the most important of the three factors, depending on the primary focus of site planning. At the simplest, we have to be able to reach things to use them. With some foresight and planning, we’re able to reach them in the most efficient and economical way(s) available to us. In the best case, things are conveniently near each other as well as just being accessible, saving time and work transferring them.

We can increase efficiency by locating things that need regular care close to our daily paths, like putting greenhouses and veggies near our homes. Alternatively, they could go near water sources, or be located beside chickens and pigs that till, turn compost, provide manure, and will be helping with garden clean-up. We don’t want to have to cross a yard to get tools and hoses and come all the way back to a garden plot, though.

When we plan the space we want to leave to facilitate access, we want to take into account our methods of reaching our targets:

  • walking with hand tools, with hay bales on hooks, with forks or bags of feed or seed or fertilizer, or with buckets, blickeys and crates
  • wheelbarrows, push or pull carts
  • tractor or ATV and attachments
  • truck or gators/field carts
  • tree pruning tools, branch removal or chipping (and chipper size and type)
  • firewood harvest methods
  • distance between storage and harvests of hay, straw or crops
  • type of brush control and access for it
  • longevity/sustainability of methods chosen for all phases (we all get old unless we die young, and what we can manage by now may become impossible due to age, illness or injury)

Tall hugelkultur beds increase our efficiency not only by decreasing water and fertilizer needs but also by increasing by 3-5 times the amount of growing space we have. Tall beds also eliminate some of the stooping involved with veggie gardens, creating longevity in our growing systems.


We also want to leave space for things like sorting, curing, drying, and curing harvests of various types, running our chipper-shredders, PM’g and repairing our equipment, and to get out of sight of nosy neighbors for livestock culling and harvest. Ideally, that space is conveniently located to the origin or destination, to water, and to where we collect and leave our tools for the tasks. Leaving room for living space and accounting for where we’re creating shadows, damper areas, windbreaks, open sight lines, and cover or concealment for thieves and worse as we plot out our sites is also important.

Something I’ve seen lower harvests in both small-scale and large-scale is somebody cutting a corner with a wagon or tractor a little too close and wrecking the end of a row, or having room when everything is small and new or just seeded, but having no room to maneuver once perennials or large crops grow in. Paying mind to the turning radius of our chosen methods can help save those. (So can practicing when a field is still empty.)

The general rule of thumb when planning for access is that things that need the least care go farthest away and off beaten paths, while things that need the most care and attention go nearest the living space(s) and along walkways.

Our own needs and desires and our infrastructure plays into where we might stick things. I may not use my shop much, but it may be easier to run power to it if it’s close to the house and since my trucks are near the house, I may not want to cross an acre or two for my air pump. Fruit and nut trees traditionally go further away from my home since they don’t need daily care, but if I’m using them for passive heating and cooling or am stacking the productivity of the space by keeping birds or rabbits under them, I may want them closer. My soil type and spring bog might also lead me to avoid an area that would be considered prime, or I might choose to locate things further away so I have a yard space where I can see my young kids easily from a window. Everyone’s situation is different.

Convenience factors into access – The easier it is to reach and see something, the more likely we are to deal with it. There’s no reason not to put veggie beds near the house even in a large yard, or to incorporate herbs and veggies into traditional flowers and landscaping along our driveway and footpaths.


Convenience should also play a role when it comes to access, and for some people the convenience is more important than for others. If it’s difficult to get to something, most of us are less likely to deal with it. It’s up to us to accurately judge ourselves and decide how likely we are to ignore or procrastinate with chores and checks.

Likewise, the “out of sight, out of mind” factor plays a role. Not only are we more likely to remember that something needs dealt with if we’re seeing it every morning on the way out, we can also arrange things to serve as canaries in a mineshaft for us.

Planning & Efficiency

Planning is a big part of efficiency – with anything, military excursion to home to garden to daily tasks. As a permaculturist, efficiency is basically my Holy Grail. The interactions of biotic and abiotic factors get manipulated to death to allow nature to do a lot of our work for us and to limit the time and effort of our labors.

It’s helpful to start with sketches of what already exists on a site, what is staying and what can go, and the inputs from the surrounding area when planning for an efficient site. Permaculture zones and sectors are excellent research points for anyone just starting out.

Wasted steps are wasted time and wasted energy, no matter what scale we’re living and growing in, just like allowing runoff, sunlight, and wind to enter and exit a space without ever harnessing them. In some cases, poor site planning ends up costing us extra money when we upgrade, downsize, or need a repair.

We can limit some of our inefficiency just by making lists.

Lists start as big, general goals of our wants and needs. We can make other lists of our potential resources, challenges, and capabilities. In the case of our homestead – urban balcony to 5-50 acre farm – knowing our long-term goals lets us start accounting for them from the get-go. Lists also help us streamline and prioritize, which allows us to stay focused.

We can refer back to our lists as we approach each step in making our goal a reality. Likewise, sketching a plan and making lists of the pro’s and con’s of placing various components where we have can give us a guideline to refer back to as we move forward over months and years. Lists and a sketch can keep us from feeling hemmed in to a decision we made five years ago because we didn’t realize what a pain it was going to be to haul water 500 yards because the hose pressure won’t reach the spot where we put in our annuals.

Increasing efficiency can be as fast and simple as putting coops and hutches over compost and worm bins to decrease some of the back-and-forth steps of moving manure to those systems and being able to check levels and moisture and harvest worms at the same time we care for other livestock.


Planning for Efficiency for your Survival Homestead

Water, sun and access are just the tip of the iceberg for site planning. There are dozens and dozens of things that can factor into creating an efficient self-sustaining homestead. People have written books on the subject, and placement considerations – from the things we’re possibly going to want on location to how we decide where to put them – occupy week-long lectures. Particularly when it comes to access.

Another aspect of efficiency we don’t regularly want to consider is old age, if not a Seventh Generation outlook. How much annual care does what we’re putting in need? Will it start spreading beyond our control when we hit cane and walker age? Will that oak destroy the lawn between the house and “yard” in 10 years, leaving dogs and people ginger stepping 8-12 times a day and washing away good soils? Will those coppiced trees start wrecking fences if we’re injured or busy standing watch?

Most of us just can’t plan for everything, but at least being aware of goals, of some of the factors that affect our efficiency and the long-term effects of inefficiency, and of the priority we’re willing to assign components in and around our homes, we can be better prepared for smooth transitions and limit some of our wasted labor. Being aware of site planning and efficiency as something to research allows us to let the environment around us and that we build do some of our work for us.

A great deal can go into site planning for your survival homestead, even when the infrastructure is already in place and funds don’t exist to renovate lines or move buildings.


Some people who are preparing for the future get stressed out by prepping. It can be for many reasons. Maybe you feel you have too much to do to get ready. Maybe you don’t know where to start. You are on a limited budget and are beginning to understand what needs to be done. Maybe you are headed into too many different directions at once. You’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. Things take time to prepare, get ready, and you feel time is getting short. Perhaps you are concerned that you have not prepared completely or realize there are many more facets to being prepared than you initially thought. Maybe you are caught in a large city and cannot/ will not be able to move anytime soon.

Food, medical supplies, guns and ammunition, physical security of yourself, family and home, water availability in crisis, barter items, awareness of world events, fuel storage, electricity backup, inadequate time, so much to do and so little time, end time events. There is a plethora of things to consider. Overwhelmed by the thought of it all?

Many are faced with the same problems you have identified. Some people have only just started. Maybe one or more of these subjects is on your mind. Events in the world do seem to be speeding up. Events in the economic sphere, civil unrest, wars and rumors of wars, the chances of war where you live, the golden hoard, market manipulation on a criminal scale by our supposed leaders, laws that prevent adequate preparation, social change heaped upon us through non-democratic means, leaders ignoring the Constitution and a Congress that is emasculated and bought and paid for and too comfortable. Civil unrest. Where do I stop????

There are many things to consider. Trying to tackle all or many at once is never a good idea. It will cause more frustration and that can divert you from accomplishment. The best course is to concentrate on one thing at a time. Make a list detailing your concerns and then head in the direction you feel is best for your situation. List priorities. Communicate with others with similar problems and see how they dealt with the same problem you are facing How do you find others with similar concerns? On-line is a good start. Visit prepper websites. There are many. Google it. Develop a network. Speak with friends to find others who have similar concerns.

If the stress is causing you to be diverted from accomplishment of goals there are other methods of stress reduction. Read a book. Something that you have wanted to read for a while. Take pleasure in your large and small accomplishments you have done. Never put yourself down. Think positive. Take a break if you find yourself overwhelmed. Make a list and quantify it, then review it. Take a nap, enjoy life. Plant a herb garden. Take a college course. Do something you have thought about for a long time. Recognize that you are not alone.

One method for stress reduction is spiritual. Are you in contact with God? I approach this from a Christian viewpoint.

John 14: 27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

The Lord has given you this promise. Have you acted on it? Have you asked? Do you pray? The Lord wants to help you. Ask Him and then let Him do that. Pray and ask for direction. Trust in the Lord. If you don’t do that now, learn to trust Him, learn how to do it. Ask in prayer for help. Listen to the Spirit. Give your problems to the Lord.

It is also a good idea to develop a working relationship with Heavenly Father. He is there, seek Him.

Luke 11: 9 “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Seek the Lord’s help in all good things. It is available. Too often we don’t think to ask. You do not want to be alone in this endeavor. Seek the Lord’s help and direction. You need to ask though and have an ounce of faith that it can be obtained. Listen carefully for the answers. Develop a daily communication with God. Remember that the world is unaware of His Son and prophecy that is occurring right before our eyes and what the end result will be. You want to be personally ready for that end result. The end result is a much better world to live in which includes peace. Christ will return. It is in process as I write.

Beware of prophets of doom. There are many out there crying wolf all the time. Read them first and then evaluate what they are saying. Does it sound credible or are they simply throwing fear your way. Do they offer alternatives to their so-called facts? Or is it just a one direction only event with no alternatives? If you find their arguments have no merit, drop them like a ton of bricks. Do not go there again.

Evaluate real world events. The main stream media will not help you out. But there are also many non -mainstream sources that are just as full of lies and error. They make money by how many viewers they can attract. Is the event being described actually occurring? How reliable are their sources? Are their sources in their own head and no place else? What are they selling – besides propaganda? Just fear alone?

Get started.

  Some people who are preparing for the future get stressed out by prepping. It can be for many reasons. Maybe you feel you have too much to do to get

If you have an AR-15 or any rifle really, and you plan on using this in a defensive role should the need arise, you need to consider what is the best scope for your use. Even if you have the venerable AK-47, the scope that you use will greatly determine your capabilities after your natural skill and training have reached their limits. A good scope is a huge benefit in allowing you to accurately acquire a target and with a properly sighted rifle and good fundamentals hit what you are shooting at. There are many different configurations that are possible given the role you intend your AR-15 to be in but I wanted to discuss what I think are some of the best AR-15 scope options you have right now in order to help you hit what you are shooting at in a SHTF scenario.

Before I begin, let me state to everyone who is reading this that I am not trying to say any scope will make you a better shooter. No amount of money you spend on optics will make you a better shot with whatever rifle you have and there are people who can shoot better than you(or I) could ever dream with nothing more than iron sights. I understand this and so should everyone reading this post.

Scopes do enhance our abilities though by augmenting our ability to focus and select objects usually at a distance. You can’t ignore all of the other aspects of the shooting skills, but a scope does help. Another aspect to consider is cost. Will you get $1000 worth of value out of that scope you have your eyes on, or would something much less expensive be perfectly suited to your needs?

Different AR-15 Scope for different missions

A quality maintenance kit is a good idea when you no longer can go to Amazon for spare parts.

For the purposes of this article, I am only going to focus on Red Dot sights and Rifle scopes. What are the differences? The over simplified version is that Red dot sights usually have zero magnification and project a red (hence the name) dot onto glass for a heads up display instead of the typical cross-hairs, of where the bullet will hit. Assuming of course that you have the rifle sighted in to your sight.

Red dot sights are usually preferred in close quarter combat (less than 20 yards) situations where target acquisition speed is crucial. They are also designed to be used with both eyes open.

If you plan on pushing your rifle out to longer distances (50 to 300 yards), have older eyes or want the best lenses for low-light (not night vision) you are typically looking for a rifle scope that has some magnification factor and greater light transmission.

Red Dot Options for the AR-15

The EOTech XPS2-0 HOLOgraphic Weapon Sight is extremely rugged and durable. It’s compact size also leaves you more room on your picattiny rail for a magnifier if you want, but if you are buying a magnifier, why wouldn’t you get a dedicated scope? I understand options. Options.

EOTech’s are not cheap and this one is currently $477 on Amazon which is a pretty decent price, but you have to determine if spending this much on an optic is necessary for your skill level and what you plan on needing in a SHTF scenario. When I first started prepping I was convinced that I would need a red dot sight for close quarters, but my thoughts have evolved since then.

EOTech XPS2 HOLOgraphic sight.

If you like the idea of Red Dot sites, but are trying to keep from spending a new car payment on one, the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 is a much more economical option. I have one of these myself and while there are some things I don’t like about it (the adjustment knob is hard as hell to turn) it is a great little optic that gives me the same red dot feature for a much more reasonable price of around $80. Now, I am not comparing the quality of the Bushnell to the EOTech, but it is an option you could consider.

Bushnell Trophy TRS-25. Lower cost alternative to something like the EOTech.

Moving away from Red Dot sites and going into scopes, another good option is the Nikon P-223 3×32. This scope was made specifically for the trajectory of the .223 Rem/5.56 NATO round. There isn’t an adjustable magnification with this scope, but once you have it sighted in at 100 yards, there are reticules for targets at 200, 400 and 600. It is nicely set up so that if your rifle is sighted in, and you have a target out to 600 yards, you can elevate the rifle to get the bottom reticule on the target and the ballistics should work out. One thing about this scope is the lack of magnification makes sighting in at 100 yards impossible without a shooting scope or someone to tell you where you are hitting. Once sighted in you won’t be able to choose between head or body really, but you should be able to hit them. For me this is a good balance of close quarters capability and long range assistance with the reticules. Target acquisition at long ranges wouldn’t be easy with this scope, but I could hit them.

Nikon P-223 3×32 – Great mix of functionality in a scope for the AR-15

For excellent magnification and much longer range, the Redfield Revolution 3-9x40mm TAC-MOA is a great scope with a very good price point of $265. No, this isn’t the same quality (or cost) as a Leupold or NightForce, but if you are looking to spend 1 to 2 thousand dollars on a sniper scope, you should be looking somewhere else for advice.

There are many more options depending on what you are looking for and this great video from Nutnfancy lists off many more options. I have added links to all of his suggestions below the video. What do you think is the best AR-15 Scope?

Best AR-15 Scope Suggestions from the video above.

Weaver 2.5-7×32 206
Burris Fullfield II 3×9 165
Bushnell Elite 3200 5-15×40 398
Burris 6.5-20×50 364
Nikon ProStaff 4.5-14×40 199
Bushnell Elite Tactical LRS 2.5-16×42  628
Weaver 6-24×42  355
Weaver  Classic 3-9×32  259
Weaver 2-10×38 209
Nikon M223 2.5-8×32 350
Nikon M223 3-12×42 398
Redfield Revolution 2-7×33 168
Redfield Revolution 3-9×40 185
Burris Fullfield II 3-9×40 185
Burris  Fullfield II 4.5-14×42  275
Burris Fullfield I 6.5-20×50 364

If you have an AR-15 or any rifle really, and you plan on using this in a defensive role should the need arise, you need to consider what is the


One only has to watch the news during a holiday weekend or a severe storm event to image the difficulty bugging out using the interstate highway system. Even secondary country roads, while perhaps more practical, may either be less than ideal or could present even a more hazardous situation for a number of reasons.

But, making the decision then to hoof it with your gear and your family might be a death warrant, just waiting to be issued-(especially if your living in the desert southwest with triple digit temps).

However, there is another highway to consider: The Watery highway.

You could conceivably bug out by boat if you live within a short drive from the coast, lake, large river or even stream. Before you throw in with Gilligan and the Skipper though, here are some things to consider.

Geographical Location and Destination

Where you live or perhaps what body of water is closest to your location that you can get to quickly and safely reach will be a key factor in determining what kind of boat to consider.

You also need to consider your destination or if you plan to keep moving from location to location. Are there islands especially isolated ones with perhaps a cover where you can retreat to? You would need to select one with good protection from storms; you will need one that offers concealment and also good visibility in case of unwelcome visitors. Finding one that has a fresh water supply and small game is ideal. And don’t forget, streams, rivers, lakes and oceans are usually abundant with food.

Maybe we don’t get our own stick of Special Forces operators, but a boat could be a great option for many preppers.

Yet, another thing to consider is the watery highway you plan on using. For example, I live near the Colorado River. I might consider a sailboat as my main bug out vehicle. But I would not be able to navigate the entire river in such a craft. A rubber raft or kayak would be more practical if I had to traverse the entire length.

That is why it is best to plan for many different type of bug out scenarios. But remember, you must practice your plan, refine it as required and remember all your prepping plans must be flexible so you can adjust to any current situation.

Reconnoiter before you Bug Out by Boat

No matter what body of water you are considering, you need to take the time to scout the land and get to know the land on either side of it. It is vital to know where there are places you can hide; places where you can bring a boat close to shore-so you can gather water, hunt wild game, dig up supplies that you buried earlier or tend to a prepper garden or even camp. Location landmarks, or build some that you can spot from the water. Have a nautical map with you so you can transfer the information to it. Remember that landmarks can look different from the water especially at night or bad water conditions. Create or convert a get home bag to a going ashore bag.

Depending on the intended use-you only would need a limited amount of supplies and tools unless you are planning or forced to hunker down on land for an extended period of time.

What will the costs be?

Some may dismiss the idea of using a boat for a bug out vehicle because of costs. In this day and age, especially in this economy, you can purchase a sail boat with a shallow draft with trailer in reasonable condition for about the same price of a used car or perhaps a bit more. Plus remember that a boat can also be used and should be used for vacations. Why not combine a weekend get a way with prepper training. The more training your crew has the easier it will be when that SHTF HAPPENS.

Something like this 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump could give you a bug out advantage if you live near a waterway.

Still one has to be careful not to purchase something that will become a money pit. There are numerous videos on you tube and books available to guide you in the purchase process. There are tax advantages to consider and many banks offer boat financing.
In addition, depending on your situation, you should also consider purchasing a rubber raft or kayak. Both are perfect for fishing, scouting and going places where you main craft are unable to go.

Maintenance for your boat

Boats like recreational vehicles can be costly if not properly maintained. Yet, with a little knowledge and foresight, you can carry spare parts, fiberglass patch kits and make many repairs while on the run. Look at it this way, if you are considering buying some land in a remote area, building a cabin, hauling in water and supplies-the idea of a boat that already has a cabin, can carry your supplies and fresh water. It is also mobile which means you have a chance to sail away to another area if your current location becomes too dangerous- the cost factor might start to become more attractive.

What Equipment do you need for your boat?

OFFGRID by Recoil SUMMER 2014 Bug out boat/Urban Survival issue

Boats are self sufficient or can be for longer periods of time. While this statement is factually true. It depends on the boat you have. A kayak or small fishing boat would not be equipped with all the bells and whistles. The larger boats such as a sail boat can be equipped with a full kitchen, redundant power systems to include generators, solar power and wind turbines. Showers, sewage systems, radar, GPS, marine and ham radios, televisions, freezers, ice makers as well as a water maker which turns salt water into fresh water. It can also filter fresh water. A huge bank of batteries could also be installed and used to provide power without depending on the boats main engines and fuel supply.

However no matter what type of craft you decide on. You should also make sure you have the following.

Life Jackets: While required by law, these are essential for all passengers in a boat. Your attention will be focused on moving from point A to Point B. A child could easily fall overboard. Expect the unexpected and think safety.

Water tight containers: Used to carry your food, fresh water supplies, extra clothing, prepaid cell phones, weapons, ammo, tools- everything you need to protect from the water or bad weather. You should also have a supply of plastic trash bags, zippered sandwich or freezer bags for dry storage.

You also need to carry rope, first aid kit, pocket knife, insect repellent, spare parts and even a spare paddle.

Plastic Bail out buckets, beach towels or large sponges: Besides bailing or mopping up water, these items have many uses both on and off the boat.

Portable toilet, some type of reusable system along with toilet paper, small paper bags, a normal size coffee can and a separate container with a toilet chemical. Being on the move may require you to wait until a later time to get rid of such waste. Therefore, you can use the paper and or plastic bags to hold the human waste and used toilet paper and seal it up in the coffee can (s) until such time you can dispose of it properly. Remember, in proper disposal can be a clue to others that you are in an area or point out what direction you are traveling. Be sure to take the time to dispose waste properly.

One might think that preppers should not consider such luxury. But, I disagree. Your job is not only to survive and keep your family safe. If you have to bug out for a long period of time and can provide your family with a normal sense of life’s conveniences psychologically you are increasing your chances of survival, reducing fear, anxiety, and the breakdown of the family unit. Ask yourself this, if you build a cabin, what basic conveniences would you spouse demand that it come with. Ask yourself, How long would it be before the kids start to rebel. The right boat purchase, if practical for your area and bug out plan, would have many if not all of these options and may help convince your spouse to agree to the purchase.

Security on your boat

There are pros and cons to strongly consider before buying a boat. Your geographical location, the waterway you plan to navigate. Is the boat primary for transportation or are you going to live on it. You and your crew would need to stay vigilant. A watch program and or a drone scout would be practical requirements to keep marauders, pirates, or others away from you, your family and your boat.

A larger amount and a larger variety of weapons and ammo can be carried on a boat. However, again being out on a boat, you could be exposed. Watchers on shore, in buildings, on other boats could spring a trap and track you to your final location..

Weather and other dangers

Boating can dangerous. Your exposure to heat, humidity, adverse weather conditions, bugs, mosquitoes, snakes, water lice, leeches can quickly cause illness or even death. Objects in the water, logs, reefs, junk, could damage or even sink your boat. Proper training and education, practice trips, proper first aid kits and training would help minimize the threat level. Anytime and especially during a bug out situation, boats and boaters will most likely face some unique hazards that one may have experienced in the past during normal outings.

Exposure: Being out on the open water, you and your craft will be highly noticeable. There will an ever threat from marauders, pirates, or others. You could find yourself in a sudden fight or flee situation. It will be important to gauge your travels based on many of the concerns listed above.

Hidden dangers: If you have the opportunity, make trial runs to become familiar with your planned and un-planned routes. Mark known or potential hazards on your map and be sure to have a back up map. In addition assign a member of your crew as a spotter. Have them watch for V-shaped patterns on the surface of the water. This could be an early warning of stumps, sandbars, branches or other objects that are under the surface and could damage your boat or cause an accident that might cause injury to a crew member.

Where ever possible, scout the shoreline as part of trial runs. Know where someone could hide a boat and set up an ambush or fasten a chain or heavy cable across a river or narrow opening.

Noise discipline

Sound travels over water. You and your spotter need to not only watch for hazards, you need to listen for them too. In addition, you, your boat and your crew need to practice noise discipline. It must become second nature.
This also applies anytime you leave your craft to make excursions on land. Being a gray man out on the water or in a boat is much harder than in an urban or rural setting. But, it can be done with practice and being aware of your surroundings at all times.

There is no law that states that being prepared cannot also be a way of bonding and creating wonderful memories for you and your family. Boating is a great way to get your family accustom to outdoor activities, living off the land, and having prepping become second nature.

  One only has to watch the news during a holiday weekend or a severe storm event to image the difficulty bugging out using the interstate highway system. Even secondary country

Welcome back to our series on the 5 things you need to go off grid now, where we began with the premise that going “off grid” might not be something that as Preppers you elect to do for the sake of your family in hopes of greater harmony with Mother Nature. The “Grid” might simply take the kids and leave you in the middle of the night like Katie Holmes did to Tom. You wake up and something is wrong but it takes you a few minutes to realize your world has changed – in a big way.

To prevent something like this from taking you completely by surprise, or rendering you helpless when you least expect it; we can make plans now to prevent a loss of the grid from being as awful. It could save your marriage too. Well, maybe. I made that last one up, but if making your spouse’s life better and providing for their survival earns you points, this is something to consider.

In the first article in the series we talked about the importance of not only having water stored, but developing a renewable source of water for your family’s needs. If the grid down emergency lasts longer than the amount of water you have stored for emergencies, you will need to collect and filter water; possibly in significant amounts.

After water, we discussed planning for food that will feed your family which would not only take care of short-term emergencies but also allowed you to sustain yourself and your family for longer durations. Long term food storage, gardens and even raising livestock were discussed as part of a balanced plan of food preparedness that can benefit you now as well as if the grid went down.

So you have food and water taken care of or at least an idea on how to start prepping for these essentials in your family plan. What next?

Sanitation and Hygiene

Sometimes the throne is a little less regal, but just as practical.

What goes in must come out. Yes, I know this concept isn’t the sexiest out there, but everybody has to go, sooner or later and we have to have a plan for dealing with “the poop” when it hits the fan. What about electricity or transportation or something else like that? We will get to other items, but sanitation and hygiene are so much more important to the overall health of your family that I chose to deal with them first. Not having electricity won’t kill you, unless you rely on it to live as in life support or breathing machines. Getting sick from germs can kill and frequently does kill in disaster scenarios.

In January of 2010 you may remember the earthquake in Haiti that caused tremendous loss of life, but even after the direct effects of the earthquake stopped, the risk of death from disease only became worse. Ten months after the earthquake, cases of Cholera began to spring up. Cholera is an acute intestinal infection causing profuse diarrhea, vomiting, circulatory collapse and shock. If left untreated, 25-50% of severe cases of Cholera can be fatal.

How do people get Cholera? They get Cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with the cholera bacterium – which usually comes from fecal contamination of water or foods. How does food and water get fecally contaminated? Poor or non-existent Sanitation and Hygiene. In Haiti alone from that earthquake they estimate that over 470,000 cases of cholera have been reported. But cholera isn’t the only disease you have to worry about. Poor sanitation can cause Intestinal worms, Schistosomiasis, Trachoma and a whole host of others. We want to have a plan for keeping these germs away from your family so that illness like cholera, which can be prevented doesn’t show up on your door.

Waste Removal

It doesn’t have to be pretty, but you need to have a plan.

So the grid goes down and you need to go to the bathroom. Can’t you simply go in the toilet or just find a good spot in the yard and let her rip? It really depends on what infrastructure is in place and what services are functioning. If the septic or sewer systems are still functioning, you can use the toilet in your home. The only thing you need is water to flush the waste down and out of your home. If this isn’t possible you have to make other accommodations and since we are talking about the grid going down we have to assume that water isn’t flowing.

Waste needs to be eliminated and you have to do this in a way that does not contaminate water supplies and can be covered to prevent flies and other insects from spreading disease. Human waste should be kept at least 150 away from the nearest water source and you can create grid-down bathroom facilities in a number of ways. Five gallon buckets with modified lids make a simple option that will allow you to do your business inside and carry the waste, usually in a plastic garbage bag outside for disposal. Keeping a supply of lime to cover the waste is a good idea also and will keep odors down, dirt works in a pinch too.

You can also dig cat holes or slit trenches and get fancy if the need to sanitation lasts for a long time. If the grid actually goes down for more than a few days, you will need to look at a more permanent solution for waste disposal.


The basics of keeping your cooking utensils clean and germ free.

Eventually, you may need to make your own soap.

Even with waste being kept far away from humans and the water supply, you will still need to practice hygiene to keep surfaces clean that will come in contact with your body or the food you put into your body. Hand washing is an obvious one and you will need to wash your hands to reduce infection. Some people simply plan on stocking up on giant containers of hand-sanitizer but I prefer good old soap and water. Plus you will want to shower occasionally or bathe I am pretty sure. As part of your prepping supplies, you can learn how to make your own soap, or just buy a couple of dozen bars of cheap soap. It won’t go bad and doesn’t need refrigeration.

Along with your hands and body, you will need to keep cooking surfaces clean. You can stock up on paper plates and plastic cutlery but like anything else, that will eventually run out. Plastic spoons can be washed, but you can’t really do that with paper plates so at some point you will need to consider a wash station. This can be as simple as two plastic bins. One with clean, soapy water and the other for rinsing. Keeping your cooking utensils will eliminate the risk of disease and give the slacker in your group something to do if they don’t want to dig another latrine hole.

Tomorrow we will continue on the journey of planning for off grid living in a disaster. I hope you will join us again.

Welcome back to our series on the 5 things you need to go off grid now, where we began with the premise that going “off grid” might not be something


The dangers in this modern century require survival basics from all of us. This article provides some essential information on a few prepping basics of emergency survival gear which may be especially useful for older students. Learning some of given rules and tips may save time in a dangerous situation or to keep you alive in case your life is threatened.

Every Day Carry

EDC is a basic of the basics if you want to be prepared for something out of the norm. It is a misconception that such a gear is a large bag of stuff which most of the people would never use. Firstly, if you think about the critical situation which may occur ‘you never know when’ having it already guarantees some feeling of security. Secondly, EDC should consist of small light tools which make the whole gear comfortable to carry around.

The specialists advise some obvious tools like some sort of small knife, multi-tool, watch, and flashlight as well as things not everyone could figure out as survival kit: spare cash, flash drive with copies of necessary documents or handkerchief which can be used as a dust mask, sling or tourniquet. The pro-gear will also include something to make fire with, firearm, paracord, and other tools which are better to learn before carrying around.  You can fit each of these pieces together to make your own variant of EDC that works for you.

“Big Three” Rule

You just can’t predict when a critical situation occurs; this is the reason to keep your emergency kit in three places: car-home-university. By doing that you are able to reach some necessary tools in a limited amount of time and increase your chance to save your or somebody else life.  Don’t forget to organize your ‘Get Home Plan’ if getting an emergency kit from your class is impossible.

Get Home Plan

Our natural instincts force us to get home in a disaster and it is reasonable as usually at home we have supplies designed especially for survival, we know where they lie and how to use them. For those students living in their family’s house, it is also important to reach their parents and make sure the rest of the family is safety. But what about getting home? Specialists advise thinking about a Get Home Bag for students studying more than few miles from their home. It has to contain basic supplies you might need to reach home: water, some food, gloves, lighter, multi-tool, headlamp, dust mask, and some medical tools. A number of supplies depend on whether you’ll drive home or walk in case car is damaged. Make several plans of getting home for alternative situations, for example, “roads are blocked” or “impossible to reach the car” and plan about 5-6 routes home through different areas. It is very useful to have a communication plan with your family: remember that in a disaster it is difficult to rely on cell phone communication.

Plan multiple routes you can take away from school back to safety and a communication plan with family.

Reacting to Active Terrorists’ Attacks

One of the most extreme situations possible to happen in your university building is a terrorist attack in which your aim should be not to get shot. Dealing with the hostile situation is all about reaction: when every second counts it is better to have already planned actions in mind. Consider the plan of building, possible paths, means of communication in the building, and the safest zones. Panic can be fatal during hostile and avoiding it is only possible through good prepping. If there is an accessible escape route, attempt to leave the premises; don’t try to hide under the desk in case there is still an unblocked emergency path.

If you’re locked in the building and attacks have begun, think about the cover. Look for positions you may use as a cover from the view (bush, tabletop, door, rubbish bin, shadow), and from the fire (concrete wall, dead ground, car, heavy furniture, thick tree, curbstone).  While using a cover as a shield always look around it, not over the cover. If you need to move while staying in cover, look around and select a piece of cover you will fast move to but stay low.Be careful with light-colored walls and lights as you may silhouette yourself. Camouflage yourself using light colors: black is always easy to notice even at night as there is quite a little black in nature and interior.

Moving Through a Building and Evacuation during Terrorists’ Attack

It may be dangerous to go through the doorway: always consider that there are no threats in the room or corridor you enter any possible way. If you have to evacuate from the building – do it as fast and quiet as possible: plan your path and don’t use obvious routes which could be already blocked or trapped. Always keep low while walking down corridors staying a couple of feet off the wall: that may prevent ricocheting part of the wall if you get under fire. Also use the door as a cover in the corridor while moving. It should be noticed it is important to check behind you constantly but not to stand up: stay on knees if you want to check what is happening behind your back and be aware of possible shadows you cast. Don’t stay behind the door for too long: if terrorists use rifles, they may shoot through the door easily.

It should be mentioned that even in such a critical situation it is vital to keep a cool head: avoiding panicking may save not only your life but lives of many people. If you’ll manage to escape the building – leave the dangerous area and summon support.

On the Run

It is very important to get familiar with the basic instructions on how to escape from terrorists or kidnappers. In planning your actions, you should consider having good knowledge of the area where you study and live: learn all the safe areas in your locations and possible paths as long as your goal in such situation is to reach a safer place. Download the app which enables to track you in case you need to escape quickly and make sure needed maps are downloaded so they may be opened without network or Internet access. Be very attentive with booking tickets in case you escape from the unfamiliar city: some programs show your current location. It’s useful to remember that equipment which helps you to survive and escape has to be small, light and nondescript, like a thin wire, small lock pick set, razor blades or whistle.

  The dangers in this modern century require survival basics from all of us. This article provides some essential information on a few prepping basics of emergency survival gear which may

Our last article; the first in this series of 5 things you need to go off grid now, began with the concept of preppers looking for an ideal life of untethering ourselves from “the grid” in an effort to enjoy a more self-sufficient life. To that end, many of us only consider moving to rural land and building homes that depend less on some of the interconnected systems we rely on today. But even if that isn’t possible for most of us currently, we might be wise to plan on going off grid anyway. In a disaster scenario, we might not have any other choice. If the grid goes down due to any one of dozens of possibilities and you aren’t at your perfect survival retreat in the woods, what do you need to consider now that could impact your family’s survival?

The last article covered water primarily because more than almost anything else, water is needed for survival. The average human person can only go for three days without water so in a grid down situation, this will need to be one of the top if not your first priority. If you have water taken care of, the next thing you will need if the grid goes down is food.


After water, our bodies need food for energy and nourishment. When I started prepping; food and water were the first two items I began to consider for the obvious health related requirements, but unlike a survival bunker, stocking up on extra food is an easy thing to do. On top of that, not too many people look at you with a weird expression when you simply purchase a little extra food each trip. I just blamed my children for being pigs… “Man! You just won’t believe how much spaghetti my 6-year-old puts away.”

Each and every one of us eats food every day so it isn’t like we need to plan clandestine trips to the Army Navy store to avoid letting our neighbors know we are prepping. The concept you need to remember is planning for the Grid down scenario where you won’t be able to load up the car and drive over to the local supermarket. If the grid really does go down in a major way, you will need to already have a plan in place for taking care of your food needs both short and long-term. You will not be able to begin your food storage after a disaster.

Stocking up on groceries

Easy food storage start is to simply buy a little more each week of what you already eat.

There are many ways you can begin to think about food after a collapse and the simplest short-term solution is to simply stock up on the foods your family already eats. When you go to the grocery store; if you buy 3 jars of spaghetti sauce normally for example, just buy one more. I won’t lie and say that purchasing extra groceries will not cost you more money, but it is the easiest way to build your supplies. For a lot of us, we have more money than time right now. In our imaginary grid-down scenario there will be no power so I would recommend against stocking the freezer only or buying dozens of microwave burritos. In addition to planning your food storage, you have to consider how you will cook this food if the power is no longer working, but I will deal with that in another article.

Long term food storage

When we think about planning for long term food storage, we routinely consider canned foods or foods that have been sealed to prevent spoilage for a long time. You can purchase bulk items like rice and beans and seal them with oxygen absorbers in 5 gallon buckets. This will allow you to store a lot of food for a really long time. Optionally, there are dozens of companies that sell freeze-dried food where they have done the job of protecting the food for you. Of course, this food will cost you more than what you can spend if you do the work yourself, but there are some advantages. You can assume that most of these companies know what they are doing more so than you starting out which may give you comfort in knowing that when you need to use the food you are storing it will have been properly stored and you won’t open up a 5 gallon bucket of rotten rice.

Growing a survival garden

Even if you spend $10,000 on food and you have it locked in your basement, eventually that food will run out. What if the grid is still down when all your food supplies are depleted? To really be in the best shape you can be in when the grid goes down you need to have your own source of renewable foods. The most obvious and understood option is to have a garden. Gardens are not a cure-all though and require a significant amount of up front work, planning and there is a learning curve.

A garden is simply a prepping must-have to live off-grid.

Many preppers I know plan to start their garden when the grid goes down and that is not a good strategy in my opinion for a few reasons. First, simply making a garden plot takes a lot more than a shovel and a rake unless you already have tilled soil that is ready. Most of us have a spot in our backyard where we imagine that beautiful little garden with nice neat, weed-free rows of fresh vegetables. That doesn’t happen overnight and it certainly doesn’t happen without some hard work.

Secret Garden gives excellent tips on growing your own camouflaged food forest to reduce the threat of anyone stealing your food.

Assuming you have a nice plot of land without any grass or weeds, you may need to amend your soil to give it the right nutrients. Composting and adding natural fertilizers help with this but again, that isn’t something you will have on day one. And, probably the best reason against this plan is that those beautiful vegetables take time to grow. You can’t wait until you are hungry and expect to go dig a hole and plant your survival seeds. You could be waiting months for the first fruits of your labor. I recommend starting a garden now. The Farmer’s Almanac says that a 16 x 10 foot garden will feed a family of four with a little left over for canning and freezing. What if your crops fail? I would plan on a much larger garden even though that is more work and the reality of it is you may be looking to convert every single square inch of dirt you have into food production. You will also need to plan on canning supplies and all that goes with that. Gardens do not provide food all winter so you will need to grow enough to eat and put away to last you during the winter months.

Something else to consider is your garden will be visible to anyone walking past your property. A really brilliant alternative would be to use the food forest concept to grow a camouflaged food forest so that your food supplies are less likely targets of wandering hungry people. Rick Austin has a book that introduces these concepts called “Secret Garden of Survival” and I think that is a great place to start.

Raising Livestock

OK, so you have a full pantry and even have a stash of freeze-dried foods under the beds and in the closets. Your garden is underway and you are already seeing the first fruits from your plot of dirt. What about protein?

Rabbits are a low footprint option for raising a lot of meat.

Assuming you aren’t a vegetarian, meat is on the menu or it would ideally be in a grid down scenario. Sure you could plan on hunting but you will be in competition with everyone else in this grid-down world that is hungry too. I believe in a massive collapse, any wildlife would be quickly depleted and the chances of getting wild game would be slim. Sure, legumes and some grains have protein, but for those of us who like to eat meat there are a couple of relatively simple options to consider in a grid-down world that you can even use now.

Chickens are incredibly easy to raise and take care of. They just need some basic protection from the elements, good quality food and water. In return you will get delicious fresh eggs. At our house I have fresh eggs every morning for breakfast. Raising rabbits is another great option for protein but they will need to be slaughtered and butchered. Rabbits are prolific breeders – a single female has on average 8 kits per litter and their gestational period is about a month. Assuming you start with three rabbits (2 females and one male) you could have well over a hundred rabbits in the first year.

Aquaponics is another option that I think lends itself to an off-grid lifestyle, but it does require power. Raising chickens and rabbits does not.

Tomorrow we will get into the third thing you need to go off grid. Water and food are checked off our list. Can you guess what is next?

Our last article; the first in this series of 5 things you need to go off grid now, began with the concept of preppers looking for an ideal life of

Being a successful survivalist means being able to handle any situation life throws your way and come out on top. Training and preparation are key, but what happens if you find yourself without any of the tools you’ve relied on? Could you still surmount any odds using only your skills and perhaps a knife?

Let’s jump into the worst-case scenario of finding yourself in a SHTF situation without any tools but the clothes on your back and a trusty knife. Using only what is available to from the natural surroundings and what small amount of belongings you have, it’s time to construct one of the oldest tools used by hunters, the bow and arrow.

Gathering Your Bow Making Supplies

European Yew is suggested as the best material for making bows, but good old Hickory is great also.

It is important before you even begin shaping or sharpening your arrowheads to find the proper materials for creating a bow. Look around to find any dry, dead pieces of wood to use as the basis for your bow. The perfect piece of wood will be dry and hard but not cracked or damaged in any way that may render your bow inefficient. Find a piece that is

  • Around six feet in length
  • Free of any noticeable cracks or knots that will weaken the wood
  • Suitably thick enough to withstand the force of pulling back on the bowstring but still maintains a level of flexibility
  • If at all possible stay away from using freshly cut pieces as the wood lacks the strength of dried wood and will be less effective

Once you’ve found a suitable piece of wood for your bow, begin looking for pieces to construct into arrows. The ideal wood should be about half the length of your bow and as straight as possible. Avoid using freshly cut saplings if you can.

Assess and Determine the Key Points of Your Bow

After locating a suitable log for your bow, it is time to determine the natural curvature of the wood so you can know in which direction to begin shaving the limbs.

Place the wood on a flat piece of ground and apply pressure to the center with one hand while keeping your other firmly against the top. The wood should swing to show you which in which direction it curves, the side that is facing you after the swivel will become the belly, the piece that faces you, of the bow. Find and mark the center of the bow on the side opposite the belly, the side which will face away from you.

Begin Shaping Your Bow

Using the mark on the center as a guide begin shaping your bow by gradually shaving away wood from either side, it is important though to shave wood only from the belly side of your bow. Leave about three to four inches extending from the center on both the top and bottom untouched, this will be your handhold.

As you begin to shape the bow, pay close attention to which portions bend and which remain stiff. You’ll want the bow to bend evenly across the bottom limb and upper limb so as you shape, flex the bow slightly to ensure it is indeed bending correctly. Continue flexing and shaping the bow until you have a consistent and strong bend.

Begin Notching and Preparing Your Bow for a String

Cut into either end of your bow, notching both sides deep enough to hold a bowstring but shallow enough to not compromise the integrity of the wood. As with before only cut wood away from the belly side, any damage or cuts to the back-end of the bow can render it inefficient or at worst cause it to break when under pressure.

Stringing Your Bow

Now hopefully you paid attention to our 7 Survival Skills You Should Know post and learned the importance always carrying paracord. Using the paracord you’ve fashioned into a survival necklace or boot laces measure out a sufficient length to create a bow-string. Your string should be able to reach both ends of the bow while remaining taut enough to resist pulling. Once you’ve cut the proper length, tie a solid loop knot at each end and knot the cord around the bow at its notches.

Check Your Bow’s Strength and Construction

Now that you have a properly shaped and strung bow, it’s time to check its strength. Firmly hold your bow in hand with your lead arm extended fully while pulling back on the bowstring with your other hand. The bowstring should be able to be pulled into your draw hand is almost in line with your chin. Pay close attention to the bend in the bow to ensure it is bending evenly and does not need to be shaped further.

Bows & Arrows of the Native Americans: A Step-By-Step Guide To Wooden Bows, Sinew-Backed Bows, Composite Bows, Strings, Arrows & Quivers

Making Your Arrows

The most simple form of an arrow consists of a thin shaft of wood shaved into a point on one side and notched for the bowstring on the other.

Begin by shaving away pieces of your arrow shaft until the entire length of the wood is smooth and rounded.

If you will be opting for a simple pointed arrow without an arrowhead, just simply shave one side into a sharp point and notch the opposite side. You can harden the arrow tip by heating it above a fire but pay close attention to not burning the arrow at all.

Optional Arrow Features

If you find suitable materials in the field you can also add:

  • An Arrowhead by notching the wood and attaching the arrowhead securely to the shaft with a small bit of twine or paracord
  • Add fletching to the bottom your arrow shaft by splitting the back-end of the shaft and inserting a feather. Use your remaining paracord to tie the split pieces back together

Now just gather your hunting camouflage and use your bow to catch dinner.


Being a successful survivalist means being able to handle any situation life throws your way and come out on top. Training and preparation are key, but what happens if you

Like some of you reading the Final Prepper, I have long wanted the ‘Prepper dream’ of a large tract of mostly wooded land, complete with a large stream or river gently rolling through the property. In this imaginary paradise full of wild game and fertile soil, I would set up my modest log cabin complete with all the amenities (underground man cave/survival bunker) that we could purchase or build which would allow us to go off-grid and be able to live as self-reliant as possible. Naturally, I roll up to my homestead in the woods in my brand new Devolro Tundra, complete with Realtree paint job – family in tow, breathe in the fresh air and smile with contentment.

For me, those dreams are on hold, but definitely not forgotten.

There are those who are searching right now for the perfect piece of land and who may have already made plans to move their family, but for the large majority of the rest of us, this is simply not possible. Oh, I know there are those out there who will say anything is possible if you just put your mind and priorities to it and I agree that there is truth in that saying. Maybe I should say that it is far too much trouble now for me to do what is necessary to move, for a lot of factors I won’t get into in this post. I did want to discuss going off-grid from another standpoint though and that is from the perspective of events or circumstances out of our control.

What if you don’t get to choose when you go off-grid. What if the grid suddenly up and leaves you without so much as a dear John letter? For those of us who have dreamed of that self-reliant way of life by that picturesque cabin in the forest, our reality could be our suburban homes are rendered Grid-less in some future disaster and when that happens, will you have what it takes to live off the grid?

There are common elements to living off-grid and I want to discuss these today and how you can take steps now in anticipation of a future disruption in the status quo. Today we will begin a five-part discussion on the 5 things you need to go off-grid and how to make your home prepared for that possibility right where you are, without the trouble of moving or chopping down a lot of trees. Oh, and the Devolro is optional too… unfortunately.


To go off the grid, it helps to have sufficient water collection capacity.

To go off the grid, it helps to have sufficient water collection capacity.

This may come as no surprise to most of you but water is a necessity. If you and “the grid” go through a nasty breakup, you will still need the basics for survival. Water is one of the easiest items to stock up on now, but finding it, collecting it, transporting it and making it safe to drink, make this no trivial item when the taps are shut off.

High capacity water storage tanks like this 530-gallon tank from Bushman would solve a lot of grid-down water problems.

Source – A source of water is an absolute necessity and as much as I like to point to rain barrels as one potential option, you will need to make sure that the capacity you are collecting is enough to last you from rain to rain. The beautiful thing about rainwater collection is that collection is virtually zero work once you have the system set up and it is possible to get an insane amount of water from the mildest of downpours. For every 1” of rain on 1000 square feet of roof, you can collect around 600 gallons. If you have moderate rains, this could keep a family of 4 in water for a long time. (1 gallon per person per day x 30 days) = 30 X 4 people = 120 gallons of water minimum per month. With only one inch of rain and the right capacity of a rain barrel system, this could keep you stocked with plenty of water for 5 months! Double the capacity and you have doubled the supply. The Tank Depot has great slimline water tanks from Bushman that will fit nice and snug to your house and comes in several colors that hold 530 gallons of water each. Two of those are an approximately $1700 investment that could hold 1160 gallons.

Not everyone has that much money to plunk down on a thousand-gallon water storage tanks so there are other options, sizes and price points. You can purchase nice decorative rain barrels that hold closer to 50 gallons at your local hardware store or purchase used food-grade barrels and build your own system from much cheaper. There are more videos of rain barrel videos on YouTube than you can shake a stick at.

Collection – If you are unable to collect rainwater and are forced to go acquire it somewhere you will need containers to hold the water you are transporting. One thing to consider here is that water is heavy in quantity. Sure, you can carry that single liter water bottle around all day but if you are humping it to the water hole you probably want to get enough so that your efforts aren’t wasted. At the very least, you don’t want to have to go out every day to get water if you don’t have to. There could be threats to your life going out so take that into consideration.

A means to transport the water is best and I think a heavy duty rolling yard cart would be ideal unless you have your own mules. You could load 20 gallons of water easily in 5-gallon water containers or buckets in one trip and wheel that back to your home. If you had to carry your own water and didn’t have the benefit of a cart, I doubt many people would be carrying more than 5 gallons at a time. Additionally, if you are carrying water without a cart, you want something with handles. Don’t be that guy schlepping off to the water hole with 2 liter Pepsi bottles tied with your paracord around your neck. That would work, but seriously???

Filtering water doesn’t get much easier than gravity-fed units like this Berkey Light.

Filtration – This is the part of the water problem that will cause more illnesses to survivors after you and the grid are splitsville I think and that is drinking contaminated water. There are virtually no untainted sources of water unless you tap into a spring right as it is coming out of the ground or a well. For anyone collecting water from a pond, river or stream and even those rain barrels, you will need to disinfect your water. The absolutely easiest way to make a lot of water safe for drinking, in my opinion, is a gravity filter like the Big Berkey line of water filters.

I have the Berkey light and it doesn’t get much simpler than pouring water in the top. Gravity feeds the water through the special filter elements and the water collects in the bottom reservoir ready for drinking. The only work you have to do in the filtering process is to pour. The filters have a life of about 4 years assuming 4 gallons a day and usually only require gentle cleaning if your water is nasty. You can purchase replacement berkey filters now, to have on-hand.

Options? If you don’t have water filters, you can absolutely boil water or use bleach to disinfect but that takes time, energy (building a fire) or you have to worry that you either have too much or not enough bleach to water ratio. For me, simpler is better.

Tomorrow we will discuss the second aspect of going off the grid. I hope you will come back and join us and as always, please comment with questions or opinions below.

Like some of you reading the Final Prepper, I have long wanted the ‘Prepper dream’ of a large tract of mostly wooded land, complete with a large stream or river

Dwarf Trees – When Less is More

We spend a lot of time looking at annual crops and gardens, but perennials have their places. When it comes to fruit trees, we have many options in sizes. There’s little more majestic than a full-sized cherry tree, and not much will match a standard apple for yield. However, there are a lot of times when we’d be equally or better served with a smaller tree, and lots reasons to consider dwarf trees or semi-dwarf instead of a standard, even when there aren’t space constraints that affect the ability to get pollination partners. I’m starting with a primer on size and expected yields by size and species, then hitting considerations such as maintenance, resiliency, harvest size, and more.

Tree Sizes

There are some generally accepted sizes for dwarf, semi-dwarf, and standard-sized fruit trees.

A lot of fruit trees have about the same spread (circular footprint) as they do height. Dwarfs are usually 8-12’ (also regularly seen as 8-10’), semi-dwarfs tend to range 10-16’, and standard fruit varieties are usually considered to be 18-25’.

There are exceptions, such as peaches that are naturally already fairly compact at 12-15’ and cone-shaped pears with a spread of just 10-12’ but a height upwards of 20’ for mature standard varieties. Some standard trees are also just smaller, such as plums and figs.

Part of planning the size we want is planning for space around a tree or shrub where we can work. As a permaculturist, I love stacking spaces and full canopies. However, there’s not much room to maneuver underneath a dwarf or semi-dwarf tree – their canopies tend to start around thigh and shoulder height – and it’s not like all standards are roomy below the canopies. I can create a planting plan that allows me to maximize the space I have without encircling each and every single tree with a path, but somewhere through there, I do have to give myself room to harvest and rake and prune.

Dwarf and semi-dwarf trees produce the same type and size fruit as standards, just less per tree.


 Yield By Size

A nice lady who ran a blog once went through and compiled yield ranges from the information Stark Bros. puts out. I turned it into a single-page printable for clients (with citations). As with any, this information should be taken with a grain of salt. Climate, soils, care, and disease can all affect yield, and yield can vary greatly by variety within a species. Still, it makes a nice printable to use for a ratio comparison between dwarf, semi-dwarf and standard trees.

Be aware: Yields vary depending on soil types, nutrients, water, pests, pruning and variety of tree within each species. I halve the numbers from Harried Homemaker and Stark Bros. when presenting estimated to clients.

Remember, locally produced trees and shrubs, even grafted, will have more success than shipped-in specimens most of the time.

Specialty Types

There are all sorts of even smaller fruit trees and ways to tailor fruits to our needs. Espalier can be done against walls and fences, or grape style in the middle of a yard. Some fruits that are commonly produced on trees have a bush variety, such as the bush nectarine or some of the bush cherries. There are also potted varieties of a lot of fruits now, trees to shrubs and brambles, specimens specifically bred and designed to thrive in a container and be more compact.

Cordon or columnar fruit is available in several species, and while expensive, it can save space to increase diversity and allow homeowners variety and resilience.

Columnar or colonnade trees are extremely narrow and small. They can be potted or directly planted. Their yield suffers due to their size, but they can be excellent as canary varieties for us and they excel at providing some backup pollinators, especially for folks in small spaces or who want edible beautification. However, they are pretty darn pricey.

Container fruit needs a lot of water and nutrients over the seasons, but if we stick them on rolling casters, it lets us maneuver our fruit into protected areas. Those minis can allow us a sustainable source of things like citrus, tea, figs, and peaches. Likewise, an espalier against a wall will typically be warmer as well as easier to protect and keep damp than a freestanding tree in a yard.

Dwarf, container, trellis and espalier fruit can transform a compound into a more pleasant space, allow perennial production in urban and suburban environments, and let us take our fruit trees and shrubs with us when we move.


Yard-planting container-intended columnar, bush and espalier fruit has particular application not only for those who are spacially challenged in their yards but for those with compounds. There’s no reason our castle has to look industrial. In fact, back when castles were in vogue, they typically made use of every inch with plantings, which were tailored both for form and function.

Benefits of Smaller Specimens

Increases harvest season – One benefit to smaller trees is that we can spread out the harvest season. The common standard tree yields of 10-20 bushels is a lot to deal with inside the 1-3 weeks of the harvest season for each variety, and once it’s in and processed, there’s no more fresh fruit. Instead, we can tailor our home orchard for 3-6 months of fresh produce by selecting varieties from late, mid and early seasons within their species and having a couple of other species with them.

Spreads out the workload – Avoiding a single-type glut such as can come from even just 1-2 large trees (or species) by tailoring our home orchards by harvest period can let us select varieties that go straight to storage to complete the sweetening and softening process, while still having some fresh fruit now. Since summer and autumn are already hectic seasons for a lot of us and will be more so if we’re producing our own food, it’s nice to have that option. Even without storage fruit, smaller amounts harvested over 1-3 weeks per species lets us process fruit at a slower, steadier, more manageable rate.

Easier Management – The workload from processing harvest isn’t the only thing that goes down. Smaller trees allow us to work around them with less use of overhead tools. They’re easier to harvest and prune with only a step stool, and it’s easier to see what’s going on in the canopies. That alone can help us spot problems early.

Increase variety and species within a space – Instead of having three apples in standard sizes, we may be able to fit 5-9 dwarf and semi-dwarf trees, in addition to any wall-hugging espaliers and the super-compact minis or potted varieties. Sometimes that means we can get two pollinators for a primary semi-dwarf, and sometimes that means we can have a pair of small apples with a plum and a peach. Other times it means we can have a fruit tree or five, and still have sunlight and space for other perennials or an annual garden.

Smaller trees can allow us to increase variety and resilience in the same space. If one species, variety, or specimen is lost or damaged by pests or weather, others may survive.


Fresh eating is always healthiest, and having multiple harvest seasons from a variety of trees helps increase the periods of fresh produce, especially if we’re not gardening yet or a drought or the power/labor supply is making us choose between livestock and gardens for water. A variety in fruit types also provides a wider array of nutrients than having just 1-2 trees that produce all at once.

Increases resilience to varying weather conditions, climatic change and pests – Diversity is always a benefit in many ways, but in this case, it’s tangible. A lot of our fruit trees share pests and diseases with each other and other plants, and many require pollination.

If there are only two varieties of apple (or other species), and one is sensitive to something around us, the other has lost its pollinator. We won’t get any more fruit. If we get a semi-dwarf or a single standard for the tree we want most, then 3 smaller trees that cross pollinate, losing one of them to a pest/disease and one of them to weather (drought to storm) still leaves us with a pollinator. We still get our fruit harvest from our target tree.  If we had 5-7 smaller trees and lose 2-4, we increase our chances of good harvest in harsh conditions even further.

Graphic: Using a mix of semi-dwarf and dwarf trees can increase the total fruit yield in a space as well as create resiliency. *Yield estimates taken from Harried Homemaker Preps’ compilation of Stark Bros. estimates.

The resiliency benefits extend beyond pollination partners. An early-season fruit tree stands more chance of having late frosts and freezes or false springs kill off the buds. Summer storms, bug/pest seasons, and late storms and frosts can all become risks as well. With 3 smaller trees instead of one large tree, we can still get a harvest if one fails or if we lose a tree entirely, inside a species or by planting a variety of species.

Whether they’re small or not, having multiple varieties and species can help avoid total losses and it can help us spot problems early enough to save a harvest. Even if we don’t catch something for the first variety or species, because so many pests are common within domestic fruits, we may be able to treat later-blooming and later-fruiting specimens.

Faster Maturation – Most dwarfs and semi-dwarfs will begin production and hit average, mature rates in less time than standards. Their ultimate total yields are lower, although that can be mitigated with multiple trees.

Future Moves – Dwarf and mini fruit that can handle containers is also beneficial for those who plan to move to a new, larger space or compound. Some of us just can’t justify putting fruit into our small spaces, then leaving it. We can also go ahead and get our fruit trees the day we move, with the plan to transplant once we study and develop our plan for our homestead. That way we’re a little (or a lot) closer to our mature production rates when we hit our new locations.

Small Trees for Big Spaces

Small fruit trees can also be used as “canaries” a la mine-shaft mode, especially on large spreads. We can tuck a sampling of dwarf and super-dwarf compacts in similar light, water and soil conditions along our driveways and near our homes. Doing so lets us keep better track of flowering, health, and fruit development, especially in our busy daily lives, since we see them right there, all the time.

Dwarf and espalier fruit can be trained to hedges, serving multiple functions on our property as well as producing food.

We still need to check on orchards – especially if they’re planted in blocks of the same species or close cousins. Differing microclimates may (will) produce fluctuation even within members of the same species. The diversity of fruit species and other landscaping and gardening can protect our canaries, and lower compaction might be leading to better soil health in one spot or another. Then there are things like chickens, goats, pigs, deer and porcupines that can be affecting outlying trees but not the ones where our dogs and people run most frequently.

Still, over a few seasons, we’ll pick up on the trends and be able to use our canaries to tell us what’s going on in an orchard or even just a few trees that are out of sight-line.

Small Trees for Home Orchards

A small fruit tree isn’t always the solution. For larger families and groups, and anyone interested in silvopasture or sticking crated/kenneled livestock under trees, standard varieties may be a better choice. For those who are looking at age, physical ability, resilience, and small spaces for an edible orchard, smaller trees and container fruits may be a major boost to our capabilities. Smaller trees can also just be faster and easier to care for than large trees, and provide a variety of fruits sooner and a longer harvest period for a busy working family, which may better serve some people.

Dwarf Trees – When Less is More We spend a lot of time looking at annual crops and gardens, but perennials have their places. When it comes to fruit trees, we

I came across an article on the INCH Survival site that was originally posted in May. In this article, the author discusses the pro’s and con’s of joining a survival group as opposed to simply going it alone. The article raises some good points, but the concept isn’t only for survival groups. Anytime you are dealing with other people you will have to accommodate their personalities. You will get their strengths and be subjected to their weaknesses. One thing I thought about after reading this post was for a lot of us, our families will be our survival groups and I don’t believe they will act any differently than friends or strangers in the same scenario.

Consider this, a disaster has occurred in the United States and virtually everyone is affected. There is no hope anywhere and no assistance. For all practical purposes you will be on your own for shelter, security and survival. Family members will likely bond in times like this so your survival group might be Aunt Doris who never really saw you much more than at family events. Another member might be your second cousins that you only know through Christmas dinners and word of mouth. Does the fact that these people are blood relations change how they will act in a crisis? Are family members any more trustworthy than your neighbor, or a stranger?

I personally don’t believe the Lone Wolf will ever last long in a major crisis. Could they hang tough and make it through the first/worst part of the disaster because they have some training, resources and the will to survive? Probably. I imagine a lot of people would, but eventually anyone who cares for their survival will want to be part of a larger group and all the problems of people together in bad situations will be shared regardless of your relations.

I think a valid thing to consider is how you as someone who is interested in Prepping will adapt when your sphere of influence or responsibility grows due to a tragedy. Have you given this any thought? Knowing what you know gives you one set of advantages, but the same people you swore you wouldn’t become (the sheeple) could easily be part of your group and under your care without you even trying. This isn’t so much a debate about who will share supplies as it is relationships with other people in crisis. When those people are your family, what considerations will you be forced to consider as the leader in your group?

Read the article: The Lone Wolf VS The Survival Group and let me know your thoughts.

I came across an article on the INCH Survival site that was originally posted in May. In this article, the author discusses the pro’s and con’s of joining a survival