How To Use Zip-Ties in An Emergency Situation

How To Use Zip-Ties in An Emergency Situation Your imagination is the key to survive an emergency situation. It doesn’t matter if you’re stranded in the woods or in the concrete jungle. Putting your mind to good use and using the items you have can save the day. Having a few simple zip-ties in your …

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20 Long Lasting Foods That Should Not Miss From Your SHTF Pantry

20 Long Lasting Foods That Should Not Miss From Your SHTF Pantry I recently realized I never really thought about how to stay alive during a long term survival scenario such as an EMP that could wipe out the entire electric grid for many, many years or an economic collapse like in Venezuela. It’s only …

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The post 20 Long Lasting Foods That Should Not Miss From Your SHTF Pantry appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

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Back to Basics: The KISS AR-15

SHTFblog_survival_cache-best-ar-15-dissipator-windham-weaponry-magpul-blue-force-gear-vickers-2

KISS_SHTFblog-survival-cache-tactical-magpul-aimpoint-comp-ml3-fenix-pd35-troy-magpul-dissipator-stramlight-tlr-1I admit it – like most gun culture involved individuals in America, I also got way too caught up in building an “ultimate” AR-15.  While I didn’t go as wild as some, I definitely spent way more money buying and trying different setups until I settled on my current “Goldilocks”configuration. I use and shoot the hell out of that AR – it’s my SHTF “gotta go!” rifle – but I’ve figured out with actual use that the rifle just has a lot going on for occasional range use, training, and scouting/small game hunting.  It’s heavy for an AR, to boot.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

The basic rifle uses a Windham Weaponry 16” heavy barrel SRC upper, modified with a Troy low-profile gas block, 13” Troy Alpha rail and aluminum Sig Sauer flip-up BUIS.  The lower has a Magpul MOE grip and a Magpul ACS stock, both stuffed to the gills with extra springs and pins, small sample tube of CLP, a spare firing pin, and a full complement of CR123 batteries for the 1000-lumen Fenix PD35 TAC light.  With the rubber-armored Aimpoint Comp ML3 red dot optic and steel LaRue M68 QD mount, the rifle weighs over nine pounds with a full 30 round magazine and BDS sling.  It’s set to go for a SHTF event and is a very capable, reliable, great-shooting rifle.  You could ask almost anyone and probably get the reply that it has everything one might need on an out-the-door grab-and-go SHTF AR platform.

But does this AR have things I don’t absolutely need (besides weight)?  Since building that SHTF rifle, my mind has been drifting occasionally to a “KISS” (Keep It Simple, Stupid!), rifle that is lighter, has no frills, and just works for a variety of uses and missions.  I recently assisted my father with assembling a rifle that he dubbed his “ULWC” (Ultra LightWeight Carbine) that utilized a lot of really high-end lightweight parts and a dash of simplicity to create a nice, functional AR that tips the scales at under 7 pounds with a micro red dot optic and 20-round P-Mag.  I wanted to straddle the line between the weight of my father’s ULWC, the utility and mission of Doc Montana’s “Katrina Rifle”, and what I had built already.  Nothing battery-powered, (though retaining the capability of mounting a light)  just tried and true simplicity.

Opportunity Provided By Colt

I’ve had a Colt Match Target Sporter HBAR for years, and I never really shoot the rifle anymore due to its competition-designed setup: it is a standard AR-15A2 configuration, with a 20” very heavy barrel, non-removable rear “carrying handle” adjustable sight, and fixed rear stock with added weights. The rifle shoots great, but its 1:7 rifling rate of twist means that it doesn’t group my preferred 55-grain bullet handloads very well – the 1:7 twist spins the fast-moving little pills too quickly, and the rifle grouped badly with 55-grainers as a consequence.  I didn’t want to stockpile another bullet in the 69-75 grain range and develop another handload for a rifle that didn’t have the capability to mount an optic optimally, so the rifle sat in the safe and gathered dust for a long time.

However, one day I was talking with my brother about possible upcoming AR builds, and he said, “why don’t you just throw a collapsible stock on your Colt?”  A light bulb went off.  I have built up a cadre of friends and local shops who were very capable of excellent AR builds and had all the tools I hadn’t accrued yet….so indeed, why not modify the Colt?  It possesses all the basic upper and lower receiver ingredients for a great KISS rifle – it just needed a different barrel and stock configuration.  I rooted through the couch cushions for extra change and set to work once I had the funds.

The configuration I knew I’d go to was one I’d had in mind for years: Dissipator, baby.

Dissa-whaaaaat?

KISS_SHTFblog-tactical-survival-cache-dissipator-colt-ar15-streamlight-TLR-1sI remember being quite young – probably before my teens – and perusing through the many stacks and stacks of gun magazines my father had accrued: my earliest firearms education.  I remember seeing an a picture of an AR-15 that still sticks with me – it looked like a mean-looking chopped-off standard AR-15A2; and really, that’s what it was.  Later in life, I found that the then-Maine-based company, Bushmaster Firearms, had put a name to the design that Colt had pioneered years ago: The “Dissipator.” A classic Dissipator is a standard AR-15A1/A2 with the barrel –  usually 20” on a standard A1/A2 – lopped off to a handier 16” length.  The flash suppressor sat just beyond the fixed tower front sight and full-length rifle handguards, giving a stubby, businesslike appearance.  But even in my now long-gone younger ages, I knew that the rifle had a longer sighting radius for better accuracy, while boasting the handier CAR-15 shorter overall length.

Original Dissipators had issues with reliability; they had a full-length rifle gas system on a carbine-length barrel.  Gas impulses and resulting short dwell time were funky and the guns had a habit of not cycling properly unless the gas ports were opened up significantly.  Modern Dissipators usually utilize M4-pattern barrels and carbine-length low-profile gas systems under full-length rifle handguards, with the fixed tower front sight not being utilized as a gas block, as per the usual.

Today, things have come full circle.  After the A3/M4 AR variant reared its head, sprouting its myriad spawn and video game experts, shooters started to realize that the extra handguard length meant more rail room for more goodies and sling mounts.  It also lead to a longer sight radius for any attached sights, and with the modern arm-extended “C” clamp method of holding the rifle, more space to muckle onto the forward end of the rifle and not get your phalanges cooked medium rare.  You’ll see many modern builds are actually de facto Dissipators – short barrels with full-length handguards/rails growing around them, and sights that are placed almost to the muzzle.  Hey, if it works, people will figure it out eventually, right?

But I’d figured out long ago that it looked purposeful and damned cool.  And I was gonna get one, dammit. Or, y’know, in this case I’d build one.

Putting the Puzzle Together

Okay, so I had a Colt rifle and the entire interwebs to help me figure the best way to modify it.  Really all I needed was a barrel, appropriately-lengthed gas tube, and a collapsible buttstock.  I’d had the receiver extension, end plate, buffer spring, and carbine buffer kicking around already, waiting for a build.  I sourced a black milspec Magpul CTR stock from the local Cabela’s, and converted the lower from a fixed A2 stock to a 6-position telescoping rear stock one evening after dinner.  Mission one complete.

Related: Theory and Practical Application of the Walking Around Rifle

KISS_SHTFblog-survival-cache-best-ar-15-colt-dissipator-streamlight-magpul-MOE-tlr-1SNow for the upper receiver modifications, which were going to require more digging to make sure I did things right.  I searched the catacombs of online sources for a couple days, looking for the proper barrel for my build.  I definitely did not desire another heavy barrel; nor did I want a flyweight barrel and its walking groups.  Finally, I found that my local boys at Windham Weaponry do indeed offer Dissipator setups – I could have bought an entire completed Dissipator upper receiver, but settled on just the barrel and gas tube to replace the 20” heavy barrel that was on the Colt.  In the Dissipator models, Windham Weaponry offers a heavy barrel setup, as well as a stepped, lighter M4-pattern barrel.  I opted for the latter, and was 100% confident I’d have a great barrel; I’ve personally toured the Windham Weaponry facility, and their quality control is second to none.  Every person who works there is fiercely proud of their product and what they represent.  As stated before, my other AR build has a W-W upper, and with a good field rest, that rifle will keep 4-5” groups at 200 yards with no issues if I do my part behind the Aimpoint.

Windham Weaponry offers the ability to purchase directly through their website and I could have installed all the hardware, but I wanted to support another local business.  I called on an old schoolmate, Jeff Furlong at Furlong Custom Creations in Raymond, Maine, to order the parts and assemble them to my upper.  I’d had a custom kydex holster made by Jeff years ago, but had never had any rifle work performed.  He has a stellar reputation for his builds here in the area, so I called on him to help with the build.  Jeff helped me sort out what I wanted and needed, and he got to ordering the barrel and necessary accoutrements from Windham Weaponry.  While he was at it, I asked him to source a set of black rifle-length MOE MLOK handguards from Magpul, and a new charging handle.  He had a BCM Mod 4 charging handle in stock, so we threw that on the pile of parts.

I dropped the upper off at Furlong Custom Creations, and less than a week later, I got the message that the parts had arrived and the new parts were assembled on the upper.

And the Survey Says….

Huzzah! I buzzed up to Furlong Custom Creations to collect my upper.  Jeff remarked that it looked “badass” with the Magpul handguards, and I was inclined to agree.  Though aesthetics aren’t exactly the only thing we aim for with our ARs, you know we all smirk inwardly with unabashed satisfaction when another gun guy tells us our rifle looks “badass”, or some variation thereof. I probably would have skipped back to my truck if it wasn’t for the icy driveway.

Once home, I reunited the old receiver mates and assembled the newly transformed upper onto the Match Sporter lower.  The end result was, in my eyes and hands, delightful.  The weight sits just a bit further forward than a standard M4, and the handling qualities are excellent.  The initial handling time I got with the rifle, comparing it to its fully decked-out brother, made me like the Dissipator more and more – maybe there really was something to this simple, lightweight thing.

The first range trip was short – I barely got it on paper at 50 yards before the Maine 4th Keyboard Commando Brigade showed up at the pit with their AKs and .45 Glocks and started performing breathtaking 7.62 drum dumps and even occasionally hitting their Bin Laden targets.  I packed up and headed home before the cops showed up.

I finally got a few minutes to do some accuracy work while on my lunch last week, and the results were very good.  With Federal 55-grain FMJBT ammunition, I was able to keep 5-shot groups to 1” or so at 50 yards offhand.  Benched groups at 100 yards with the same Federal load hovered in the 2”-3” range – adequate for the purposes I need. I’ll try a few different factory loads and also try a handload – but for all intents and purposes, I’m happy with groups this size from an open-sighted rifle.  My old Winchester Model 54 in .30-06 shoots 2-3” groups at 100 yards with open sights, but will cloverleaf three rounds at the same range when scoped – so I know that the larger groups at long range are due to my aging Mark 1 eyeball’s capability, and I’m fine with that.  I accept it, anyway.

Though I’ve only run about 300 rounds through the rifle thus far, I have been very happy with the package and the performance.  Reliability has been flawless – though one really can’t gauge long-term results from just a few rounds downrange.

A Couple Additions

I didn’t want – or really, need – to add a bunch of crap to this rifle; I wanted to maintain the KISS principle to the best of my abilities.  Light weight and no-frills are the core concepts in this build. In my mind’s eye, I only needed two accessories: a good sling, and the ability to mount (and dismount) a light.

For the sling, I ordered a Magpul MLOK-compatible QD sling mount, and attached the circular mount at the 10 o’clock position, as far forward as I could place it.  The Magpul CTR stock already had a quick-detach sling swivel mount built in, so I sourced a pair of Midwest Industries Heavy Duty QD sling swivels from Amazon.  The space in between the swivels was filled with an adjustable Wolf Grey Blue Force Gear Vickers Combat Application sling to keep the whole rig in place on my body.  For those of you who haven’t tried a Blue Force Gear Vickers sling, they are phenomenal and highly recommended.

For illumination, I obtained a 3-slot MLOK picatinny rail attachment point, which I mounted at the 2 o’clock position, also as far forward as was allowable.  The small, simple rail is just the right size to mount a Streamlight TLR-1, which can be activated by my support hand fingers without adjusting my grip.  Simple, easy, tough…and with enough illumination power for what I expect to use the rifle for.

Possible future upgrades that are not necessary for this rifle to complete is mission, but are desireable to help improve user-friendliness:

  • a three-dot tritium sight set to replace to stock A2 adjustable sights, as budget allows – but with the Streamlight mounted, the need for the illuminated sights is negated mostly.  If I don’t go with tritium sights, a finer post front sight will find its way on the rifle.
  • An Odin Works extended magazine release is definitely on the list; they are a vast improvement over the stock magazine release, and I install them on all of my AR platform rifles.
  • A Magpul MOE Enhanced Trigger Guard will also be installed in the future to allow for improved access to the trigger with gloved hands.  They are more smoothly contoured as well, and don’t have a tendency to shave skin on my fingers as badly as the stock sharp-edged metal one.  I saw a screaming deal for a BCM extended trigger guard, so that was ordered and installed on the rifle instead of the Magpul part.

Defining the Mission for my KISS Rifle

While some may say the need for this rifle may be vague or non-existent, it fills a very vacant hole in my lineup.  I’m very fond of running guns that are sans optics unless I need them; I like the lighter weight and better handling qualities…a good aperture sight setup is all I need for 90% of my rifle use.  I’m comfortable and pretty quick on target using the built-in, non-removable sights.  For a few bucks, I can always drop some cake on a new flat top upper and have the Dissipator parts swapped on, once my eyes finally give out (I’m fighting it as long as I can, dammit) and I require an optic to keep my rounds heading in the right direction with anything resembling a modicum of precision.

KISS_shtfblog-tactical-survival-cache-KISS-rifle-dissipator-blue-force-gear-vickers-snowBut, what will I do with this rifle?  I’m glad you asked.  Like the aforementioned Katrina Rifle engineered by Doc Montana (check out his article here for a similar rifle concept that is different in execution), I built a rifle around an idea that requires a simple, light, rugged, and above all, reliable rifle that is capable of security detail/protection, hunting, and scouting.  Light weight is essential so that the rifle can be on my person perpetually if the situation demands it.  In a true disaster or SHTF event, having a lightweight rifle as a force multiplier may be the difference between life and death – and if the rifle is so heavy or obtrusive that you leave it at home standing in the corner, it is of no benefit.  This KISS rifle is also a second primary rifle, so that I may outfit my teenaged-but-larger-than-me son with an effective rifle in case of severe emergency and extra security is required.

I also wanted a platform for my KISS rifle that was easily serviceable, with parts readily available, either aftermarket or from salvaging “found” guns if needed – the Colt fit the bill flawlessly in that department.  However, since the Colt is an older “pre-ban” (is that still a bragging point anymore?) rifle, it has larger .169” trigger/hammer pins, not the Milspec standard .154” pins.  This necessitates a couple spares taped to the inside of the Magpul MOE grip….just in case.  A complement of easily-lost detents, springs, and pins also reside in the grip cavity along with a shortened 1/16” hardened steel pin punch and a small sample tube of CLP.  I like being able to effect small repairs and lubrication in the field if necessary, but big parts replacement, if required, and deep cleaning can be carried out at the home/BOL armorer’s bench.

Read Also: The AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group

The rifle will likely stay at the homestead, but remain ready to fulfill its duties with a ready complement of four loaded (and regularly rotated) and ready-to-rumble Magpul P-mags for immediate danger work, or a couple five-round magazines with a small-game/varmint handload in case I don’t feel like taking my Walking Around Rifle for a jaunt in the woods.

This KISS Dissipator (KISSipator?) fulfills all the basic requirements I was looking for when I started building the gun in my head.  I got the Dissipator I’d been dreaming of for 20 years, and was able to tailor the long lusted-after rifle and its few accessories to fill a hole in the SHTF arsenal, all while not overloading the rifle with gadgets and battery-powered weights. Mission accomplished.

The Sum of its Parts

The Dissipator configuration is a great choice if you’d like the longer handguards for mounting and grasping real estate, but without the added cost and/or hassle of free-floating rails.  Really, if I didn’t want to retain the capability of mounting a light to the gun, I could have left the standard A2-style handguards on the rifle, mounted the sling to the standard swivels, and had a great rifle for even less money.  As it stands, the cost for the barrel and gas tube assembled to the Colt upper, BCM charging handle, Magpul MOE rifle-length handguards, Magpul CTR rear stock, Blue Force sling and mounts, and the MLOK attachments is $407.00 – much less than the cost of a new, high-quality rifle (with no accessories!), even in this heyday of the AR rifle and aftermarket parts glut.

Check Out: Windham Weaponry

And keeping it simple?  That’s a personal choice.  I like having a rifle that is 100% effective at its intended job without any additional tactical detritus that weighs the rifle down and requires a larger stockpile of batteries.  I was pleasantly surprised at the utility of this rifle, even without all the gadgetry installed.  The fixed rear sight A2 platform is the ultimate in platform simplicity and ruggedness, and may even be the direction you want to go in if you’re looking for these same qualities in a SHTF rifle.

What are your thoughts on this setup?  A waste of a good Colt, or the right direction to go in? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts if you have a minute to share.

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What if Martial Law Were Declared in America? Part Three

This is part of our free, online and highly-praised survival fiction novel. You can read the rest of the parts here.

Bob woke before sunrise, accustomed to early rises from his military days. He threw back the heavy sleeping bag, swung his legs over the bunk, and climbed out of bed. He began stoking the embers in the old stovetop woodstove, poking them to life again using a steel rod, and adding in the split pine.

In the mountains the morning temperatures often fall below freezing in spring, and even at this time of the year the air is crisp.

He grabbed a large pot from the woodstove, slipped into his boots and headed to the creek.

The pot of water was kept full all day, and sat on top of the stove to keep the cabin from drying out. The dry heat from the wood made everything parched. The water’s purpose was to continuously add humidity to the air, and to help warm the space. It is an old timer’s trick that his Grandmother always used when he was young.

Wearing only a coat, a pair of boxer shorts and his heavy boots, Bob stepped outside into the cool mountain air. The ground showed signs of frost. He pulled his coat tighter around him. The morning was dark, and the sky above was clear, only a few stars still poking through. It was looking like a promising day ahead. The ridge to the east showed a slight orange tinge, its light beginning to shine off the tips of the mountain peaks. He inhaled deeply the Alpine air.

It was enough reason to foretell of a fair weather day ahead for the men. Bob considered taking the time to hunt for those grouse that Murphy and he had seen on the way in yesterday. The birds would be a nice addition to supper. It was early, so the grouse may still be roosting in the trees. In the evenings often during the cooler temperatures they would perch high in the branches to avoid predators. If the birds were unfamiliar with humans, they will sit perfectly still, just huddled balls of feathers, puffed out to keep warm, roosting as still as pine cones.

Sometimes a careful man can walk right up to a group of them and knock one off with a stick. Many of the old timers called them fool hens for this trait. The birds rested this way at least until the morning when the sun warmed things up, and then they would drop down from the trees and feed in the underbrush on dry berries, buds, and seeds.

Bob’s cabin was only 35 yards from the tiny creek. It was flowing quietly southward, singing cool and clear as it passed the cabin. It took its time making a leisurely course to the east, meandering toward the Longview marshes some twenty-five miles away. It fed the swamps that Murphy had struggled through to get here.

He paused a moment to look around at his Grandfather’s camp. The log structure was encircled by a wall of towering conifers. This made it hard for any aircraft to spot it from above. A pilot would need to be directly overhead to see it through the trees. Other than the telltale signs of chimney smoke, it was nearly invisible.

The camp had a constant freshwater source from Myrtle Creek, and was well shielded from the elements. It lay nestled beneath a sheer hillside, studded with tall fir trees at its peak. The large overhanging roof that his Dad and he had repaired many years before backed right onto the steep shale hill. At its base both the roof and the shale scree had been covered by decades of moss over the years. The cabin roof appeared as if it melded straight into the hillside, making it impossible to see it by the average searcher.

The exposed scree, warmed by the sun in the daytime, prevented snow from building up above it, this reduced the chances of avalanches in winter. The line of trees at the ridge prevented dangerous cornices of snow from forming at its summit.

The heavy roof of the cabin had been built using eight large timbers hewn from whole skinned trees, taken from the nearby forest. Roy, his Dad, and he had replaced the old thin roof with a layer of four inch thick planks sawed back in the late 80s. They had milled them using a portable chainsaw mill, and placed them using a home built gin pole set-up. The simple rig was made from two 40 foot tall spruce timbers in the shape of a “V” holding a pulley system at the top for lifting.

With steel cables a block and tackle, and a hand-crank winch, they were able to lift the heavy timbers into place with ease. The Gin pole was set up over the cabin, and swung off the trunk of a large nearby fir tree that stood beside the structure. The fir tree was used as an upright support, and as a pivot point, it was tethered from behind with cables holding the gin poles to the tree, and the tree to the ground. The cables ran down and were fastened to the base of several other trees used as anchors. The whole rig stood solidly, and was capable of lifting several tons in weight.

The large logs used for the roof planking were rough milled to size, and fitted snugly with each other after trimming them with a chainsaw. These planks were also harvested from the nearby woods. They had been dried for over two years before milling them, and then placed and held down by one inch dowel pegs.

Each peg was twelve inches long. His Dad would split the tip of the dowels with a hand saw and insert a wedge that would expand as it was pounded into the bottom of the augured holes, thus fixing each permanently in the rafter and the gable end walls. Once the peg was set, another wedge was inserted into the top of the dowel to hold the planks solidly in-place. This sturdy roof design was thick enough to span the large spacing of the rafters, and made for a rock solid roof.

Then the entire roof was covered with a layer of felt paper, and a double layer of heavy black polyvinyl plastic sheeting. His Dad and he also piled it high with a thick twelve-inch mat of Sphagnum moss, gathered from along the creek banks. It was a living roof that acted as insulation, like a green blanket growing over the cabin, firmly rooting itself many decades ago.

The living moss helped act as a fire retardant for the chimney, as well as insulation. It had grown to about a foot and a half thick over the passing years. This helped make the cabin part of the landscape. Moss has always been used by trappers in this way during the old days for cabin building.

The cabin had survived the occasional scree slide from the hillside without any concerns. The tiny sturdy building took it all in stride, making it blend into the scene naturally. It was a very impressive structure. Overly built, yet idyllic in the way that it looked under the hill, it was as if it grew there.

Bob stood on his rustic porch beneath the four-foot overhang of the front gable, and breathed in the mountain air. He always felt at home here at his Grandfather’s old camp. He considered the world around him, and whispered out loud, “I swear if I didn’t need to make a living, I’d never leave here.” He smiled, and made his way down the heavy log steps, toward the creek.

All along the shore were tracks and evidence of wildlife. There were deer, raccoons, and even a set of moose and Otter tracks. Across the creek on the adjacent bank was an old mashed down beaver slide left from last winter. It ran down the slope on the far bank. It was beat smooth by otters as well as beaver, and was evident by the matted grass and mud trail. The beavers must have passed through after the winter thaw.

Spring was their mating season. As soon as the ice breaks it was time for the young bucks to move on down the road to look for a mate, and make new lodgings. Beavers usually travel at night to avoid the many predators that would stop at nothing to catch one in the open. Yet, make no mistake about it, a big male beaver weighing 45 or 60 pounds can be a very formidable creature when cornered.

Bob had once watched as a large adult beaver fought off a lynx, and even saw one take on two cyotes at the same time. The big male simply held them at bay with his teeth, chastising them with a hiss a few nips to the pair of young canines. After several yelps, he turned and dove into its hole in the ice as if it was no big deal.

His Grandpa had taught Bob all about trapping, and the woodsman ways that he now possessed. Occasionally, in his youth, Bob still trapped fur. That was until he joined the Navy, and now he rarely bothered these days. The modern fur market was mainly over in Eastern Europe today, and the lucrative Russian fashion houses of Moscow.

Everywhere else has gotten too sensitive about trapping. The Western world virtually boycotted the entire fur trade all together. Bob thought this was a shame as natural fur is still one of the finest insulators out there. Now the conservation officers mainly exterminate the problem beavers, wasting the fur and meat.

Bob bent down to fill the tin pot with cool clear water, and then made his way back to the cabin. When he entered, he found Murphy still in bed rubbing his eyes. “Hey, buddy,” he called out as he made his way to the stove.

Murphy nodded cordially then croaked back, “Hey,” shaking his head awake. He looked groggy from the pain killers Bob had given him the night before.

“Wow, I slept like a rock. I feel much better, thanks for everything man…” Murphy rubbed the thigh of his bad leg using both hands, and stretched out his arms and yawned.

Bob tipped his head toward the window as he struggled with the heavy pot to the stove. “It’s looking like a great day out there,” he smiled then set the pot of water on the stove to heat. “You take it easy on that leg for a few days Murphy… ya hear? I’m headed out to scare up some grouse for supper.”

Bob lifted up the mattress of his bed and grabbed the .22 rifle from its hiding place, and slung it over his shoulder. He then slipped a full magazine into his coat pocket, pulled on some pants, grabbed a handful of jerky from the table, and stuffed it in his breast pocket.

Next, he slung an old tattered rucksack on his back. This he always kept ready by the door, as it contained the few odds and ends he might need when out and about. “I’ll see you in a few hours, Murphy.”

“Yeah, sure,” he replied, “I’ll make some breakfast…”

“Remember take it easy on that leg today. Maybe when I get back I’ll show you around a bit… if you’re up to it that is?” with that, he slipped outside and closed the heavy door behind him, and was gone.

Bob loved the woods, of all the places he could be it was here that he felt the most comfortable. He made his way north back along the trail he and Murphy had come in on yesterday. He spent the rest of the morning scouring the old winter berry patches. The odd dry berry still hung wrinkled and nearly inedible on the bare branches, being a favorite winter food of the Northern Grouse. He then skirted the hazelnut groves watching the lower limbs of the spruce trees for his birds.

By mid-morning, he had shot three and managed to scare up a rabbit on the way back to camp. He quickly dispatched it with one shot, and threw it in the sack with the rest. All in all, it was a very successful morning.

He saw plenty of deer and moose tracks, which encouraged him to ready the smoker when he got back to camp. Maybe later this week he would concentrate on something bigger for the food stores.

He then came to an old dry log by the creek and sat down to rest. He scooped up a drink of water with his cupped hand, and sipped the cool liquid. Sitting back on the log, he pulled out a large piece of jerky from his pocket, and tore off a piece with his teeth, then began to chew the leathery meat.

He thought to himself, “It really doesn’t get much better than this,” as he savored the dried meat.

The wind whistled through the tops of the spruce trees, gently moving them back and forth, swaying like a gathering of ship’s masts in a gentle harbor. The sun had finally crested the ridge line, and the day was getting warmer, it was a perfect spring day.

After a short break, he decided to clean his catch by the creek. First, he used an old woodsman’s trick to clean the birds. He laid the grouse on their backs, and stood on their wings. With his boots placed on either side of the bird, and then he began applying pressure… slowly pulling up on the legs until the entire insides came lose. The breast simply slipped out of the skin as quick as you please, and the guts were free in one go… well, when done correctly that is.

He then cut loose the legs from the tangled mess, and tossed the rest aside, and left the feathers, guts and wings for the wild things to eat.

The rabbit was different, yet equally ingenious. After squeezing the urine from the animal’s bladder to keep it from getting on the meat, he wet his fingers for grip. Then one by one he grabbed the rabbit’s legs, and while using his other hand he jerked down hard on the skin breaking it away from the foot. Rabbit skin is very delicate and tears easily. In this way he could pull the fur from the animal without using a knife to cut it.

Working his finger under the hide between the back legs, he simply tore the skin open and removed the entire fur as if it were a sweater. He completed this procedure by pulling the hide off, inside out, over the animal’s head. Leaving nothing more than the furry feet on the remaining carcass, in which he deftly chopped off with his hatchet on the log.

The whole process, although gruesome to watch, took less than a minute to perform. He then cut open the abdomen, and removed the animal’s insides. Saving the heart and liver from each for later. He cooled the meat in the creek, and washed his catch in the cold water. He then gathered up the spoils, dropping it all in a plastic bag, and stashed it in the rucksack. He washed his hands in the creek, and then picked up his rifle and headed back down the trail toward the cabin. Yes, Bob was quite at home in this valley.

The pack was light but for the game and would certainly make for some fine eating. “Perhaps,” Bob thought, adding some vegetables to the mix will fill it out.  He walked along and kept his eyes open for any sign of new shoots popping up through the winters mat.

He was looking for a certain type of fern. When picked in early spring, before it has a chance to open, it makes for a very fine vegetable. They call them fiddleheads, a name given to it for its resemblance to the curled head of a violin. The key to identifying them is that the stem of the edible ferns are clean without fuzz, and have a U-shape when cut crosswise. True fiddleheads are otherwise known as ostrich ferns, although there are other varieties that are quiet edible when their sprouts emerge, they are at their best before they become poisonous at full bloom.

The first patch he spotted just along the edge of the creek was in a low area. A person must be careful not to take all the shoots from the rhizome root. They grow in groups of three or five, and it could kill the fern for the next season if you take them all.

He walked the creek picking as he went. By the time he finished scouring the area he had a gallon of the green edibles, and was nearly back to camp when he looked up. Bob decided to clean the fern heads in the creek, as they grow with a brown papery material attached to the heads when they first emerge. This needs to be washed off before cooking. He also threw in some wild parsnips for the stew. He then made his way into camp.

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He opened the door of the cabin and saw Murphy watching the news on the TV.

Murphy’s shocked appearance drew Bob’s eyes to the screen and the mayhem taking place on it. A chaotic scene in the streets of Dallas, with people panicking and running for cover as National Guardsmen marched forward with bayonets held at the ready. Live gunfire crackled through the smoky background.

A confident reporter’s voice came on the TV claiming, “Several small rebel militia groups have cordoned off areas of the Texas city in response to the rioters. They appeared to be organized, and well-armed, and ready for a fight. I have with me Colonel Colton Madson, from the local branch of the Texas based Militia. ”

At that moment a tall military man stepped in from the side of the screen dressed in fatigues and wearing some form of military insignia on his sleeve. Under the screen it read, “Colonel Colton Madson, Texas Republic Militia.” He was a large man, dark haired; maybe in his fifties with a Marine style haircut, clean shaven, and portraying a stoic sense of authority about him. He leaned toward the reporter’s microphone and spoke.

“The Republic of Texas is willing to defend the neighborhoods of the people of Dallas from rioters and looters. We have also determined that under Texas Constitutional Law, the so-called United States Government has declared war, and is now operating under a rogue administration that has over stepped its bounds according to the Law of the Land.

Its use of Martial Law to control the nation is unconstitutional. It has been determined to now be under direction by a self-appointed tyrannical administration, a shadow government completely outside of its constitutional jurisdiction. We therefore are notifying the President and the nation’s capital that we will meet force with like force unless this nationwide military martial law is suspended. Furthermore, we are requesting control of the individual States to be returned to the people, and the Republic.”

The Colonel pulled the microphone from the reporter and continued his rant…

“Currently we are securing as many neighborhoods as possible from the looting and criminal elements, and our Militia intends to resist any attempts by any federally controlled Military or National Guard to enter our neighborhoods,” He paused and added, “without authorized Militia permission. We will not be deterred from our duties to the people and the citizens of Texas.”

The interviewer stepped back into the shot, retrieved his mic from the Colonel, and commented, “Well, there you have it folks, the people of Texas have spoken. This is Dexter Jacobs, MSNBC news, Dallas Texas.”

Murphy nervously turned off the TV using the remote. The sudden silence in the cabin seemed surreal.

“Jeezus Murphy, what is happening out there?” Bob dropped his rucksack on the floor, and leaned his rifle on the wall beside it, and took his coat off.

Murphy looked up from the TV, “I don’t know, I… I just turned it on.” Without looking at the blank screen, he pointed his finger at it, “This is serious Bob, what if this is in more than one city… or even more than one state? What if it’s happening in all of them?” his voice cracked when he said this.

“I mean this could last a long time, maybe… a real long time.”

Bob bent down and picked up the rucksack again, I hear ya… this could be what I feared would happen, a war… a civil war right here in America.”

“Turn it back on, I need to see more,” Bob pulled up his chair.

Murphy turned on the TV and located another station. It seemed that every station was covering similar uprisings in towns and cities across the nation. Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Birmingham, Philadelphia, even in the Nation’s Capital of Washington D.C. there were men marching on the White house lawn wielding weapons. The Nation was acting as one entity, with one purpose in mind. America was a sea of discontent. At least that much was clear.

The government had finally pushed too far, and the people… oh how the people pushed back. At first, it appeared disorganized. Over the next few weeks (because the government tried to use force to quell the uprisings), many citizens died. New militias kept springing up all across the nation. The government tried diplomacy and sanctions, and then they cut off food supplies and water to towns and cities in a hope to starve out the revolt. But, all of this just simply added fuel to the fire.

The people banded together, and organized bigger and better Militias, spanning State wide. The weeks rolled by, and many of the regular Armed Forces began to choose sides too.

On the Internet channels, it was rumored that several squads of American Southern Reservists deserted and joined the ranks of the people. It was a revolution now, not just a civil war. The people wanted their nation back. Everyone felt it. It was like an awakening had swept the land.

At first, the militia groups were defending just their own towns and neighborhoods against the unruly mobs. This had a profound effect on the rioters. The riots began to dissipate, and although the National Guard still controlled the main streets and some rural towns, the militia controlled the big city neighborhoods and most of the southern and western towns in America.

The National Guard threatened to assail the barricades that they had erected, but held the attacks off hoping a peace treaty could be arranged with the militia groups. The guardsmen were confused, and many showed no desire to confront their own countrymen in a war. The US Federal government considered bringing in foreign UN troops… using foreigners to go up against Americans.

This certainly would have been as if a bomb had been set off in the nation. Even the Generals of the various military branches of the nation asked for caution before doing something so brash. Many were afraid of losing total control of their forces to the growing cause.

Bob and Murphy followed the events happening beyond their wilderness world. Religiously watching each evening as they sat in front of the tube every night, and made plans of how to stay hidden as best as they were able. They stored up supplies for the long haul, and pre-prepared for the inevitable siege. They secretly hoped the situation would get resolved before they needed to join the fight.

Bob was pensive; he went out the following day and dropped a dozen large trees over the north trail leading into the valley. He hoped this would deter most of the weak-hearted from continuing further into their zone.

Murphy awoke the next day, and noticed Bob was already gone. He had taken his rifle, and the quad. He had casually mentioned going hunting last night, before the lamps were blown out.

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The new morning light grew orange and gold as Bob took careful aim at the magnificent deer standing before him. He waited for a broadside shot, and punched the great animal through the lungs with one round. The shock of the hit was more than the deer could take. His hind legs went out from under him immediately, and the rest followed soon after. By the time Bob had made his way through the brush to claim his prize the animal lay still, it was a good hit. He gutted it, and hoisted the carcass high into a tree to cool. He then proceeded back to the trail to where he left his quad.

In no time at all, he had the animal hanging in front of the cabin. Murphy came out onto the porch, and commented, “Nice one, Bob,” and returned to the cabin for his jacket as the cool morning air hit him.

“You need a hand with it?” he asked as he headed down the cabin steps.

“No I got this, but maybe you could put some coffee on, that would be nice. I could use a cup.”

“Here,” he handed Murphy the deer liver, kidneys, and heart then added, “Maybe some liver and eggs for breakfast, huh?”

“Yeah, absolutely no problem, I’ll bring some coffee when it’s ready too.” Murphy set about brewing a pot, and preparing the breakfast.

First job was removing the hide, then splitting the pelvis, and ribs. He then proceeded to butcher the animal into manageable pieces. Being it was late spring the deer had no antlers, but Bob was sure it was a big deer and probably dressed out at 185 lbs. easy. This would certainly keep him and Murphy in meat for quite some time, at least until August if the two men played their cards right. That evening after removing the brains of the animal used for tanning, Bob wrapped and roasted the head in foil. He set it in a Dutch oven on the wood stove, and nothing on the animal was wasted. The next day he soaked the hide to scrape it and remove all the hair to ready it for tanning.

That morning Murphy sliced up part of the liver for frying with some wild garlic. He stuffed the heart with an onion and wrapped it in foil to bake for lunch meat, which they ate later between slices of home baked bread with mustard and onions. Bob prepped the rest of the meat for the smoker, after carefully de-boning the entire animal.

Many years before, Bob had made a fair size smoker out of an old upright freezer. They dragged it in on the quad trailer, stripped out all the insides, and used the racks to lay the meat strips on. He inserted a tin pan in the bottom for holding coals as well as the wood for smoking the meat. He merely punched some holes in the top and sides with a pick ax for ventilation. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked wonderfully as he had been using nothing more than this old freezer for years.

Unfortunately, in these parts there weren’t many hard woods or fruit trees for wood smoke. So, Bob used what the old timers used, Alder, and hazelnut. He soaked the deer’s hams in some brine water before smoking them, and to this mixture he added a bunch of salt, a touch of pickling spice, and a pinch of sugar. He would check the hams in the smoker for proper temperature about every fifteen minutes at first. The saltwater brining added a considerable flavor to the meat, giving it a fine taste when roasted with potatoes, carrots, and some wild parsnips.

He also stripped all the meat from between the ribs of the buck, and added this to the grind for the sausage which he created from the tougher, less desirable parts mixed with some pork fat, of which there was precious very little. He added pepperoni spice and used dried, man-made casings he had left over from his supply. He always had this at hand from their annual hunts.

He created a dozen feet or more of pepperoni sausage, this he also smoked in the smoker. It took two days of constant work, but there was jerky, sausage, and corned meat. The bulk of the deer was chunked up and then canned in mason jars using a pressure cooker on the wood stove. Murphy took care of most of the canning. The men were certainly set for quite a while now. This allowed them to relax finally like they had not been able to in weeks.

The days passed by quickly, and Murphy’s leg healed well. He kept up with all the wood splitting, and cooking, and Bob went about filling the larder. Each man accepted his role without complaint. Soon the early days of summer were upon them, and the nation’s civil uprising had escalated further. Both sides set up peace talks of sorts. This was where each could voice their concerns. Neither side respected the other, and it seemed to be an eternal stalemate.

The two men sat on the porch that evening, watching the sunset as the creek flowed past. “Well you got potatoes, carrots, and corn planted, and cabbage which looks like it’s already forming heads in the sunny part of the garden,” Commented Bob.

Murphy was unusually quiet then blurted out, “I want a beer so bad I could murder for it.” His sudden outburst was comical.

“Well buddy, I don’t have one on me right now for you, but… I do have a beer kit stashed, oh about two hundred yards in that direction,” Bob casually pointed southeast past the creek.

“Are you kidding me, GO get it.” Murphy sat up like he’d been jabbed. “Why didn’t you say this before,” he grinned.

“To be honest, I just remembered.”  The two men laughed, and jumped on the quad to locate the cache.

Bob had many caches located all over the valley. He had spent several summers over the last three years installing them by using a power auger with an eight-inch attachment. This he did while moving from place to place scattering the caches everywhere he went.

When the men pulled up to the cache’s location, there was no evidence of it, or any other disturbance that anyone could rightfully see. Bob did a great job of hiding them. He began raking back the leaf litter to locate a rope. Once he found that, he then pulled up on the rope revealing a length of dog chain, and then walked out a couple of dozen feet of cable from the quad’s winch. He tossed it over a sturdy tree limb above the cache. Attaching the winch cable-hook to the dog chain, he then began winching up the chain.

Bob nodded in the direction of the front of the vehicle, “Murphy, sit up on the front of the quad to add some weight.”

The chain tightened, and slowly the earth swelled up beneath the chain. About three feet of lose earth was revealed, and suddenly a large diameter black ABS pipe broke through the ground.

Bob wrestled the pipe onto the quad, and lashed it down with several bungees. It was approximately five-feet long and eight-inches in diameter and weighed about a hundred and twenty pounds.

Bob laughed and said, “Okay Murphy, let’s get home.” Murphy swung his cast leg over the back seat and they were off as simple as that.

As they approached the creek crossing, Bob stopped the quad, turned it off, and got down.

“What’s up,” Murphy asked?

He just held up a closed fist indicating stop, just a minute, and then pointed to the ground, crouching as he pulled back some leaves from the dirt and asked, “Have you been out walking around here recently, Murphy?”

“No I haven’t been walking much of anywhere, accept around the cabin, why?” replied Murphy.

“Somebody with size thirteen boots is in our area. Looks like military issue footwear.” Murphy then noticed the partial track Bob was pointing at in the dirt by the creeks edge.

“Who do you think it is,” he asked?

“I’m not sure, might be civilian, might be military, hard to say, but we better keep an eye out for them that much is for sure. When we get back I’m digging out some of my old trail cameras and installing them on our perimeter tonight.”

“You think it’s serious, Bob?”

Bob just shook his head, “I don’t know Murphy. It could be they are here to steal from us. Did you lock the door when we left?”

“I did.”

“Just in case, we better get back quick.” Bob jumped on the quad and gunned it back onto the trail splashing across the creek. “Hang on!” he shouted over his shoulder as they sped off to the cabin.

When the men arrived, everything seemed okay in the yard. Bob jumped off and ran up to the porch, the door was latched and there was no sign of anyone trying to jimmy the lock or the windows.

From now on there would have to be at least one person left behind to watch the cabin, until the men find out about their new neighbor, or neighbors, as the case may be. Bob looked grim as he sat in his chair and kicked off his boots.

That evening the two men went over their game plan. The next day, just to be safe they hid a few weapons outside. A hand gun in the crook of the tree by the creek wrapped in grease cloth, loaded and ready to go. A sardine can of ammo, with one of the SKS rifles, and some dried food were stuffed in a hollow log located about two hundred yards back in the bush. It was just in case they were overrun, and needed to get away fast.

During the day they watched the underbrush with infinite care, scanning the grounds with binoculars for any sign of movement, snipers or rifle-scope lenses in the foliage. They also set up game cameras along the trails at night, so they wouldn’t be detected while installing them. They set up trail “print traps,” to reveal any evidence of people in the area. These were simply smooth dirt or mud areas, which are left undisturbed on trails to show evidence of any foot traffic passing by.

Murphy suggested man-traps, but Bob didn’t like the idea. “We don’t know their intentions, and it would leave a bad impression if they are friendlies, or kids.”

Bob looked out the window with the binoculars, and said, “I think… if we do find evidence of them still in the area in a few days and they haven’t attempted to contact us, we can be sure they are not military. However, they may still be hostile, and looking for our weaknesses. So Murphy, be wary when out and about.”

He lowered the binoculars, and looked over to Murphy. “Don’t go anywhere without a gun. I have several more SKS rifles, and an AR-15 that I will dig out tomorrow. Take your pick. I’ve thought about doing some target practice to let them know we are armed, but I think… what they don’t know may be our best defense.”

Bob then added, “If you come across someone when you’re out and about, get behind cover right away, and don’t be afraid to at least shoot a warning shot.”

“Hey with any luck they may have moved on,” said Murphy nervously looking back up at Bob.

“That would be nice, but I wouldn’t count on it,” Bob went back to looking out the window with his binoculars.

He added while staring in the bush, “You know the problem with being so tightly hidden in the woods like this, is that it gives plenty of cover for someone to sneak upon us. If we were in the middle of a field, it would be harder to sneak up, but very easy for us to be spotted from the air by a plane. It’s a “Catch twenty-two” scenario, I guess.”

“Maybe we can set up some basic alarm systems in the bush,” Murphy suggested. “You know like some fishing line and tin cans, or something like that?”

“Yeah, that might work, at least for the average Joe, but I doubt any military guys will fall for it… Worth a try though,” Bob lowered the glasses, and smiled at Murphy and indicated with his head. “There’s 500 hundred yards of 100 lb. Fish line on the shelf over there,” indicating toward the back of the cabin…

“And, a couple of fishing bells in the cupboard over the sink,” he called after Murphy who was already moving. “Keep the fish lines low, and the bells high, and close to the cabin were we can hear them. Use eye hooks or bent nails, and if you keep the line taught it will be more sensitive.”

Murphy grabbed the supplies he needed and limped his way out of the door. He made two perimeters of lines about two hundred feet each. Concentric half circles inside each other to double the chances of triggering them.

Using the eye hooks as Bob suggested, he then stretched them tight. They were held taught by a light rubber bungee and rigged with a set of small bells used for ice fishing, which he located where Bob described in the cupboard. Murphy then had him trigger his makeshift alarm system as a test, and it worked perfectly! No matter where along the line it was triggered, the bells would ring up on the porch.

Now in the areas like the frequently traveled paths on the trail, a layer of soft fir boughs were woven through the lines close to the ground, allowing the men and others to travel over them with the quad without breaking them. The tension was held fast by the bungees, and when someone walked on the bows or even pressed down on them, it was enough to trigger the bells at the house. A sinker weight was added to the slack line under the bungees to bounce when triggered, and this kept the bells ringing longer than usual.

“It may be low tech, but sometimes low tech is the least expected thing… good job Murphy” Bob slapped Murphy’s back and laughed at the ingenious device.

Murphy’s fear of living with a crazy war vet was gone now, and Bob admired how talented Murphy turned out to be. He no longer was that scared accountant at his kitchen table several months ago.

The men decided to relax on the porch for the rest of the afternoon and watch the sunlight fade orange all around them. That evening, when the two were having supper, Bob spoke up.

“I knew we would have visitors sooner or later, but never thought it would be this soon. I wonder how the folks in the city are managing right now,” Bob gulped down his hot coffee.

Murphy stabbed another piece of venison, held it near his mouth and said, “I’ve been wondering the same thing. God only knows what these news channels are NOT telling us, like the real truth.” Then he popped the meat in his mouth, chewed and swallowed. They both certainly were feeling healthier these days, ever since working long hours outside over the past month or so. The fresh air and good living certainly did improve their appetites.

After supper, Murphy again dragged out the ABS cache Bob and he had retrieved the other day, and unscrewed it and emptied it on the floor. It contained four large cans of beer malt, some brewer’s yeast, and everything a brew master might need to run off a batch of beer, except the fermentation pails. Bob had stacks of white plastic pails with lids for food storage out back under the shed roof.

He said to Murphy as he rummaged through the treasure on the floor, “It’s all you buddy, it’s your project. I have a dozen large plastic soda bottles you can use for bottling the stuff.”

“Murphy, have you ever made beer before?”

“Yeah, when I was in college. I used to make it all the time. Got pretty good at it too.”

“Well, I can’t wait,” Bob laughed jokingly rubbing his hands together like a maniac.

Murphy washed out four plastic 5 gallon pails with lids. Then sterilized the remaining equipment with bleach and let them dry. Bob had made beer here at the cabin before; therefore he had all the equipment that Murphy needed.

Murphy recalled way back on that day he was having a picnic on the hood of his car in the Longview Swamps, those many weeks before, and smiled to himself.

Remembering how on that day he had wondered whether Bob would have a way of making beer at the cabin, “What was I worried about?” he laughed.

“What’s so funny,” Bob asked.

“Oh nothing, just something I remembered from before this all began,” Murphy grinned.

The plan for the beer was to start a batch every two weeks, so they would have a steady supply.

It only took a few minutes once the boiled water cooled to the right temperature to grow the yeast. The cabin smelled like a brewery for the next few days. Yet, to the two thirsty men the malt elixir smelled like heaven.

Another evening passed without incident. Bob and Murphy usually played several games of crib after supper, and then they unpacked and cleaned the rifles they had chosen.

In the end, Murphy decided to take one of the half-dozen Russian SKS rifles, and Bob made his weapon of choice the AR-15. Murphy’s reasoning for letting Bob have the AR was that Bob would be much more effective with the AR-15 than he could ever be.

As Bob handed Murphy his rifle, he said, “They’re battle set for two hundred meters…”

“So you may want to tune yours up a bit for yourself,”

“I’d take it down to the end of the valley if you decide to target practice with it.”

Bob gave the weapon to Murphy. “I’ll show you first how to break it down, and then you can re-assemble it for yourself.”

The rifle had been stored in grease, which needed to be stripped away first, cleaned, and oiled before any reliable use. The weapon was in great shape for a rifle that was so old. It looked unused, and almost new.

The next day Bob took it upon himself to check the trail cameras as well as the print traps for any sign of people in the area. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, no sign of activity was found. One camera had video of a cow moose and her calf, and another had a video of a young black bear chewing on the camera housing. Despite the welcome news of no intruders, Bob still felt uneasy about the foot prints by the creek from the other day. He decided to venture further on, and to loop down around the south end of the valley to see what he could find

After several hours of searching, he did come across an old campsite by the trail, probably used by the owner of the footprints.

There appeared to be more than one person, judging by their sleeping area. These were people not accustomed to outdoor living (that much was clear). The location, as well as the access to fire wood and water was very poor, not to mention they had bedded down in a new patch of poison ivy. Yet Bob could clearly tell it was two adults and a child. Most likely a family. This was good news in a way.

The site was at least a week old, and showed no sign of them returning. Bob headed back to the cabin to let Murphy know what he had found.

Murphy was splitting wood as he pulled up on the quad. “I think I found a campsite that our mysterious intruders stayed at.

“Really, how far from here?”

“Just down at the south end of the valley. It looks like they stayed about a week and then left suddenly. They are a small family, a man, a woman, and a child of about twelve. They haven’t been back for a while, so… like you said, they may have moved on.”

That evening the two men relaxed and watched the news after supper. The rioting, as well as the skirmishes between the militia and the National Guard had died down somewhat. The police reports of arson, and burglaries were up in most cities. Not mentioning the several cases of the Militia shooting rioters or the rogue gangs of vigilantes murdering people in the ghetto neighborhoods.

Their violent tactics were definitely having an effect on the unruly mobs. Many of the militia neighborhoods were now being quietly left alone. Yet large sections of urban areas were engulfed in flames. Martial law was still in place and the peace talks had hopelessly stalled.

Bob hated the Shadow Federal government, “These Feds are not going to give in to the Militia. Not in a million years. Those bastards have been working towards this for decades, if not for a hundred years. They won’t quit now that they are so close to total fascist rule,” he growled at the TV aiming at the reporter with his AR-15, and dry firing it with a “click.” “They need an honest congress on their side to get anything done.”

Suddenly Murphy’s alarm bells began to jingle on the porch. The two men looked at each other. Bob said, “It could be just an animal, but let’s be sure.”

Murphy secured a magazine in the SKS rifle, and dropped the bolt on it. Bob jammed a mag into his AR, yanked back on the charging handle and let it fly, readying one in the chamber.

“Get the lamp,” whispered Bob. Murphy turned it low, and blew out the flame. He then moved to the edge of the window, staying off to one side, and slowly he peered into the blackness …he felt ready.

It was a moonless night, and the yard was as black as coal, nothing could be made out from the shadows. The two men just waited…

Suddenly a voice yelled out from the edge of the trees, “Hello camp, may we approach?” Murphy remembered his Dad had taught him when he was child, about this woodsman’s etiquette of announcing yourself before approaching a camp, especially at night. The voice yelled out again, “Hello Camp.”

Bob opened the door a crack, “Who are you?” he yelled back.

“I’m Logan Granville, My wife and my daughter saw your light on and wondered if we may come in and get warm?”

Bob was playing things close to the chest, “How are you living in these woods without a way to get warm?” he asked.

It was a reasonable question, and deserved an answer before any neighborly hand was offered.

The voice yelled back, “We left the city last week, afraid they would throw my family and me into one of those FEMA camps. So, we left in sort of a hurry…” he hesitated for a moment, then added, “I’m afraid I’m not a very good bushman or handy person when living in the outdoors. I ran out of cooking fuel and matches two days ago… although that wasn’t entirely my fault.” He added this without explanation.

The reason seemed plausible. Bob, grabbed a spotlight, and while holding it out away from his body he shone it where the voice was coming from. A tall man stood there. The man nervously shuffled from one foot to the other and called back, “Howdy friend,” shielding his eyes with his open palm. He then stepped aside, revealing his wife and child anxiously huddled behind him.

He introduced them, “This is my wife Lynda, and my daughter, Marlee. We just need to warm up a bit, and perhaps, if you could spare some matches that would be great.”

Bob looked over to Murphy, “What do you think?”

Murphy nodded, “I’ll hide the good silverware,” Then smiled as he cleared away the guns, ammo, and other valuable things lying about.

Murphy knew out of sight meant out of mind.

Bob shouted to the group, “Okay send your wife and daughter to the porch first. Then you come forward, I have my reasons for not trusting people nowadays.”

The men could hear talking, whispering amongst the three of them discussing his odd request then they agreed, “Okay, here they come.”

His wife Lynda and child Marlee walked up on the porch and stood there, until Bob decided to let them in. Then Logan started forward. “Wait,” Bob called out. “Do you have any weapons on you,” the question was prudent, given the circumstances.

“No,” Logan claimed, and continued, “I left my squirrel rifle at our camp upstream about a quarter mile or so.” Bob doubted this. He suspected it was leaning against a nearby tree, and at the ready. No man would leave his family unprotected unless he had to.

“Okay, approach, but slowly.” Bob opened the door and invited the woman and child in. “No one else is out there with you?” he asked of them as they entered.

She spoke in a Dutch accent, “No, I assure you we are alone sir and thank you very much for letting us in,” the woman said smiling up at Bob.

She and the child looked over and saw Murphy for the first time, and smiled at him too, “Thank you, sir.” Murphy showed them to the stove to warm themselves. The two women didn’t hesitate, and moved right next to the warm stove.

The tall man came to the door. He looked like a stock broker, but one that a cat had coughed up. This made Murphy laugh to himself. He suddenly realized that only a month or so ago, he probably looked a lot like this guy.

The group looked pretty banged up by their ordeal in the bush, but nothing a good night’s sleep and a hot meal couldn’t cure.

Bob grabbed a homemade half log bench that sat against the front wall. The family used it for sitting on and removed their foot wear to warm their feet by the stove. The women were shaking uncontrollably from the cold, and the tall man stood beside them rubbing his hands above the heat. All the while, he kept thanking the two men, until Bob made him stop.

“That’s perfectly fine, you seem like a nice family. Sorry for being so distrustful, but you never know who is out here.”

Logan agreed, and told a story of him and his family encountering some bad men a while back.

“Last week I ran into this group of young men that scared us a bit. They’re camped just one valley over from here. I can’t prove it, but some of them slipped into our camp at night and stole most of our food we had with us. So, we left the valley and moved on and here we are.”

Lynda added, “I’m so glad you guys are normal.” This statement seemed odd to Murphy, but he understood where the couple were coming from. Murphy offered a set of blankets for the women.

“When were you last in town,” asked Bob.

“About two weeks ago. It was becoming too dangerous in our neighborhood for us to stay any longer. The rumor was that anyone that had asked the soldiers about leaving, were soon rounded up and sent to the FEMA camps, and none were ever heard from again.” Logan looked scared when he said this.

“We watch them round up our neighbors from right out of their house that night. I wasn’t about to take any chances with my family, so I grabbed what we could and got the hell out of there fast. We left on foot with just what we could carry.”

“How did you manage to get way out here,” Bob asked?

“I used to work at a car rental place on the outskirts of town near the airport,” Logan said.

Murphy piped up, “I know the place, the Econo-car rental place.”

“Yeah, that’s the one,” he said.

“I took one of the rentals and we made our way as far as we could. I was trying to get to my cottage on Misty Lake, you may know the Resort side… and like I said we were chased off by gangs of young men, and that is how we ended up here,” Logan looked exhausted from just reliving the nightmare.

“It was the harassment of the gangs and their comments about my daughter that really had me scared. I wasn’t sure I could protect them with just a squirrel gun, and all by myself.”

“I understand,” Bob said and Murphy nodded in agreement.

“Well, warm yourself up, and you’re welcome to spend the night, if you don’t mind sleeping on the floor?”

“Not at all,” said Logan.

His wife and daughter suddenly looked as if a great weight had been lifted from their shoulders.

“Thank you both so very much,” Lynda shook both the men’s hands, still holding the blanket wrapped around her.

“Do you have any belongings with you,” Bob asked Logan.

“Just some food and a small backpack out by the tree.”

“You go get it, but leave your squirrel rifle outside if you don’t mind.”

Logan looked embarrassed, but said nothing regarding Bob’s insight.

Murphy put on a pot of coffee on, and the group sat around until midnight talking about the surreal world in which they found themselves.

Bob and Murphy discovered that much of Metro’s downtown and inner city had been burned to the ground. The mobs were now attacking emergency vehicles preventing entry into the areas to fight the flames. All commerce had completely stopped, and many of the citizens seeking help were being picked up by the military wearing FEMA personnel patches on their uniforms. They then were taken to the local stadium, before being shipped out by buses to centralized camps all across the countryside.

There had been rumors around the town that the rioters were being incited by anti-government forces. Paid insurgents infiltrated the mobs by posing as one of their own. Bob didn’t find this hard to believe at all, but Murphy couldn’t consider this possibility… it was simply too much for his mind to wrap itself around.

Murphy’s world was gone, and it had been replaced by this nightmare. He considered that it may have never been as he believed it to be. His world may have, in fact, only been an illusion all these years. Maybe before all this even started to change. He felt foolish for falling for such a diabolical lie.

Lynda noticed the time and looked around for Marlee, who was curled up fast asleep on the bottom bunk. “I’d better make her a place to sleep.” Murphy showed the Granville’s where the bedding was, and Logan and Lynda helped themselves. Bob stoked the fire in the stove for the night and shut down the dampers, making it burn slow and long, then climbed into his bunk. When everyone was settled in, Murphy blew out the last lamp and all was quiet.

To be continued…

Authored by Jack Woods

The post What if Martial Law Were Declared in America? Part Three appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

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How To Make Whiskey Step by Step

How To Make Whiskey Step by Step Who doesn’t like a shot of whiskey on a cold night? I love it. My granddad has been taking a shot of whiskey every night before bed for over 50 years and he swears it keep him healthy. I did a post on how to make watermelon moonshine …

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7 Steps for Growing Your Best Crop of Onions

7 Steps for Growing Your Best Crop of Onions Onions are on of the crops every self sufficient Gardener should be growing each year.  Even if you only have a small garden it is possible to grow and store enough onions each year so that you never have to buy another onion again.  Onions are …

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Beyond Paracord: 8 Other Cordage Types You Need to Know

Beyond Paracord: 8 Other Cordage Types You Need to Know It’s no secret that 550 paracord is the most versatile cord you can include in your bug out bag. It should not be the only type of cordage that you consider, though. Many types or rope, cord, and wire exist for many different uses and are …

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How to Make Essential Oils

When the SHTF, it’s not just going to be the lack of food supplies, transportation, or telecommunication that should scare you.

The worst case scenario to be in (when you’re left stranded with no help coming), is a medical emergency. Hospitals will be chaos centers, and pharmacies would long have been shut down or ransacked. This is where we can take the opportunity to prepare for a SHTF scenario with essential oils. Here’s why…

An Essential Item in Every Prepper’s Kit

Easily administered and highly effective, these gifts from nature are practically a prepper’s doctor on call for almost all ailments that require immediate medical attention.

Essential oils have a long shelf life. Citrus plants, frankincense, pine, spruce, neroli, tea tree, and lemongrass oils can last for up to 2 years. While most of the other essential oils last for 2-4 years, patchouli, sandalwood, and vetiver can last for an extensive 4 to 8 years.

So What Exactly Are These Magic Oils?

Essential oils are so called because they literally contain the essence of the plant from which it is obtained. These are different from fixed oils such as coconut oil, primarily due to their high volatility (they quickly evaporate even in room temperature).

Essential oils are often prescribed by eastern influenced medicine practitioners as part of a procedure called aromatherapy and have been used since biblical times for their healing properties. In fact, two of the three gifts that the wise men brought for Jesus Christ were the essential oils frankincense and myrrh!

Many nature oriented disciplines use essential oils:

  • Herbalism
  • Homeopathy
  • Ayurvedic
  • Reflexology
  • Chiropractic
  • Kinesiology
  • Transcendental Meditation
  • Tai chi and yoga

In a disaster scenario, it will be bacterial diseases, viral infections and emotional distress that will be the major causes of disaster. Natural essential oils, which are highly concentrated, have enormous healing properties for when pharmaceutical drugs won’t be available.

The Many Benefits of Essential Oil

The essential oil family can treat most of the organs in the human body while promoting overall wellness of health and mind. From alleviating minor disorders such as itching, headaches, vomiting, bruises, and an upset tummy to combating much more serious viral infections such as SARS, MRSA etc.

Containing numerous compounds, the essential oils are unique to each plant. Hence, the healing benefits of each essential oil and its combinations differ.

Here’s a list of some easily available and must have essential oils in every survivalist’s kit:

Lavender Oil: This is the number one item in most prepper’s kit. Its pleasant and soothing aroma has a relaxing effect on the mind, which can help adults with sleep disorders and depression.

Lavender oil is also good for many varieties of skin disorders such as acne, sunburns, rashes, cuts, burns etc. It has anti-fungal properties and is an effective pain reliever.

Eucalyptus Oil: With pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties this is a very good choice as massage oil to help ease joint pains, especially for those prone to arthritis. The antiviral, antiseptic, and cooling effect of this oil is very effective for skin disorders.

Eucalyptus oil improves the immune system and is helpful as a preventive for many common ailments like the flu, a bad throat, headaches, sinus issues etc. Its refreshing scent removes odor, kills molds, keeps out insects, and is good for reducing respiratory congestion

Melaleuca Oil (Tea Tree Oil): Highly concentrated, and therefore often diluted with carrier oil, tea tree oil is effective at treating fungal, bacterial, and viral infections. Tea tree oil is often used for skin disorders, athletes foot etc. As a decongestant, it is useful for treating sinus and other respiratory issues.

It is an excellent antiseptic and painkiller. Also, it is a good organic pest control for your garden, which helps repel ticks and fleas on your pets too.

Peppermint Oil: The anti-emetic properties of this oil help with nausea and vomiting. Its anti-inflammatory properties, when applied topically, help with menstrual cramps, abdominal, joint and muscle pains. It is a decongestant and its cooling effect works wonders with headaches, sinusitis, and even mental fatigue.

Lemon Oil: Popular for its cleansing effects, lemon oil is often used as a disinfectant and is effective as a dish and furniture cleanser. It works very well as an air freshener too. Diluted with water, lemon oil re-hydrates and detoxifies the body while killing intestinal parasites

Clove Oil: With excellent analgesic properties, clove oil is often used as an anesthetic or sedative. A popular painkiller for toothaches, it is also a great ingredient for making toothpastes. Its antibiotic and antimicrobial properties also work well with infections and digestive issues.

Chamomile Oil: Diluted with a carrier oil, this essential oil is good for treating allergies and skin disorders. It helps relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Chamomile oil is known for its relaxing effect. When inhaled it helps with insomnia, anxiety, nervousness, stress and has a calming effect on children.

Geranium Oil: Very good for the skin, this oil hinders the production of sebum which helps to keep acne in check. When used in shampoo, it helps to get rid of head lice. Geranium oil is also sometimes used to stop bleeding.

Arnica Oil: Arnica has excellent anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and is applied topically or by use in ointments for muscle pains. Applied periodically, it provides long term relief.

Helichrysum Oil: This oil helps improve blood and lymph system circulation. Due to its strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, it is frequently used in massage therapies to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, etc. It enhances tissue regeneration and is useful for treating rashes and other skin irritations.

Rosemary Oil: Rosemary oil is effective in getting rid of spider mites. Diluted with water, it makes a very good mouthwash. Inhaling it reduces respiratory congestion. It helps reduce emotional distress. When mixed with a carrier oil it helps with muscle pain and headaches.

Wintergreen Oil: Known as a natural source of salicylate, its anti-fungal, analgesic and anti-coagulant properties helps control intestinal spasm. Wintergreen reduces high blood pressure.

Frankincense Oil: With antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-fungal and regenerative properties, frankincense is a very handy essential oil during emergencies, especially for treating wounds. It has a calming effect, reduces headaches and is known to enhance the effects of other essential oils.

Blue Tansy Oil: It is often used for treating intestinal worms. As an antihistamine along with anti-inflammatory properties, it is very effective for treating allergies and other skin disorders such as itching and rashes. Blue tansy also helps control blood pressure.

Oregano Oil: Not to be confused with the oregano used for cooking, this essential oil is obtained from a different plant species. Known for its effectiveness against bacterial infection, Oregano oil (when mixed with a carrier oil) can be used to treat skin infections, warts, etc.

Thyme Oil: Having excellent antimicrobial properties, diluted Thyme oil is very effective for treating skin infections, ringworm, acne, etc. When massaged topically, it helps reduce abdominal cramps. It is an effective pest repellent.

Myrrh Oil: It has pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. A good antiseptic solution for treating wounds, Myrrh enhances tissue regeneration blood circulation and general immunity.

Lemongrass Oil: Helps with muscle cramps and pains. It is also known as a very effective insect repellent.

Making Essential Oil At Home

Essential oils are extracted from different parts of the plant such as the bark, flower, fruit, roots, or sometimes even the whole plant itself. For example, Lemon oil is extracted from its peel and Lavender oil from the flowers.

In some cases, based on which part is processed, different types of essential oils can be extracted from a single plant. The quantity and quality of the essential oil depends on numerous factors, such as: the plant species, the time of harvest, the part harvested, soil composition, the extraction procedure, and its storage.

A huge amount of plant matter is required for extracting just a little quantity of essential oil. For example, more than a few thousand blossoms needed to be processed before you can get a spoonful of rose oil! This makes essential oils an expensive commodity to buy.

Making essential oil on the other hand is not rocket science and using the right methods and equipment, the whole process can be very light on the pocket too.

Here are four ways you can extract essential oil at home.

Method 1: Distillation

Plant matter, when exposed to hot steam, causes the essential oil to vaporize. When passed through a cool environment, both the water and oil vapor condense. The Essential oil can then be easily separated from the water.

This is the most viable option for extracting essential oil sufficient for personal and your family’s use, without burning a hole in your pocket. Plants like thyme, basil or lavender flowers are a good option to start with.

The main equipment required here is an oil still. The easiest option is to buy one online. Although it can be expensive, it is worth the few hundred dollars if you’re planning to extract large quantities of essential oil. For smaller quantities, making an essential oil still is quite a simple job.

Here’s what you need:

  • A stove (heat source)
  • A glass pipe (10mm)
  • Pressure cooker (for steaming the plant matter)
  • A condenser – bucket or tub of cold water (for condensing the vapors)
  • An essencier (to separate the oil after the vapor condenses)

Step 1: Setting up the Oil Still

  1. Using a small flexible hose that fits tightly over both openings, connect the pipe to the valve of the pressure cooker. Use a clip to secure the connection, if required.
  2. Heating up the plant matter in the pressure cooker will release steam mixed with essential oil vapors, which need to be condensed by passing the pipe carrying the vapors through cold water.
  3. Depending upon the size of the condenser, either bend the pipe in a coil shape or run it out through a hole in the bottom of the bucket. Seal the hole using epoxy or a similar adhesive to ensure there is no leakage.
  4. Now fill up the container with cold water or ice, making certain the coil or a major portion of the pipe is completely submerged. Position the essencier, which is used to separate the essential oil from the mixture, directly below the open end of the pipe to collect the distillate.

Step 2: Preparing the Plant Matter

  1. The selected plant should be harvested correctly and at the right time. Also, careful handling is very important during harvesting since their oil reservoirs tend to be fragile. Any damage results in a significant drop in the oil quantity. If purchasing, select organic plants, since pesticides and other chemicals can contaminate the oil.
  2. Dry the plant matter in a shaded area or in a darkened room. Avoid direct sunlight since it will cause loss of essential oil. Drying is an optional step and although there is a slight loss in oil quantity per plant, this step enables you to process more plant matter per batch.

Step 3: Distillation of Oil from Plant Matter

  1. Pour clean water into the pressure cooker. Use enough water to last through the distillation process. Depending upon the quantity and the specific plant used, the whole process can take up to 6 hours or more to complete.
  2. Pack the cooker with the plant matter, leaving just enough space so that the steam outlet is not blocked. Seal the lid of the cooker and bring it to a boil.
  3. Most plants will start releasing essential oils when the water starts to boil. The steam escaping from the cooker will pass through the pipe connected to the valve. The container with the cold water will cause the steam in the pipe to condense. The distillate will now start collecting in the essencier.
  4. Keep a watch on the cooker to ensure there is enough water for the distillation process to continue. Also ensure the water in the condenser remains cold. If required, replace the water or ice.
  5. Once the distillation process is complete, use cheesecloth to filter the distillate. Pour it into a clean dark glass bottle immediately and keep in a cool, shaded place. Always store in this manner to ensure the essential oil has a longer shelf life.

Check this video to see how this works in practice:

And here’s a video showing an essencier at work:

Method 2: Using Carrier Oil

An easy way of making infused essential oil is to use a carrier oil such as jojoba, grapeseed, olive oil to extract the essential oil from the plant matter. In order to maintain the therapeutic benefits of the essential oil, the two ingredients need to be mixed in the ratio of one cup of carrier oil for each quarter ounce of plant matter.

Note: To make a 2% solution, you would mix 12 drops of the essential oil to one fluid ounce of carrier oil via Essential Oil Safety.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. A crock pot
  2. One cup of carrier oil of choice
  3. Plant matter containing the essential oil

Infusing oils with a carrier oil

Step 1: Pour the carrier oil into the crock pot

Step 2: Immerse the plant matter into the carrier oil.

Step 3: Cook the oil on low heat for 4-8 hours. In case after this duration the fragrance of the essential oil isn’t strong enough, you can continue cooking for a couple of hours more but not more than that.

Overcooking can spoil the essential oil extracted. If required, you can even replace the cooked plant matter with fresh ones and repeat this step.

Here is a good video on infusing essential oil with grapeseed oil:

An alternative to cooking is to store the plant matter with the carrier oil in tightly closed mason jars. The jars are then placed in direct sunlight for up to two weeks. Be sure not to use a Mason jar with a metallic ring, since it can contaminate the oil.

This video shows how simple it is to infuse essential oil with a carrier oil using direct sunlight:

Once the mixture has finished cooking, or has been set aside long enough, strain it through a cheesecloth and store immediately in a dark glass bottle.

Method 3: Using Alcohol

Another very easy way of extracting essential oils is by using a solvent such as alcohol. Use only pure ethyl alcohol and not rubbing alcohol. It is ideal for usage with plant matter, such as jasmine flowers, that contain volatile components in low quantities.

The extraction process is similar to the carrier oil method, only here the plant matter is immersed in alcohol. Since the plant matter is mostly water, in which oil is not soluble, introduction of an organic solvent such as alcohol causes the essential oil to separate and infuse with the solvent.

The final solution that remains is a fragrant alcohol with essential oils infused into it. It can be used directly or diluted using water. Freezing the solution will cause the oil to separate and settle on the top, which can then be scraped off and collected separately if required.

Method 4: Pressing

Also called ‘Expression’, this method of extracting essential oils may not be viable for most people because of the amount of labor required. This practice is used for extracting oils from citrus plants such as lemon, orange, grapefruit etc, as the heat from distillation tends to damage citrus oil.

The peel of the fruit, where the oil reservoirs are located, needs to be separated from the pulp and soaked in water for several hours. The peel is then kept in between two sponges and squeezed over a wooden bar held against a bowl. Every now and then the sponges should be squeezed, dripping the essential oil and water into the bowl.

Extraction of essential oil using the pressing method is very time-consuming and straining hard work. Considering you only manage to get a tiny quantity of essential oil from every batch, this method hardly seems practical (or even possible) to most of us.

This video shows the cold pressing of oils:

A Time-Tested Natural Health Care Package

Extremely long-lasting and armed with anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and emotionally soothing properties, making essential oil at home is without a doubt one of the most practical and economical healthcare solution for the everyday survivalist.

It swiftly metabolizes and repairs the body internally. Not only is it highly effective during an emergency situation, but it also promotes overall wellness when diluted and used regularly in small doses. Note that essential oils are a concentrated substance. Always check with your doctor beforehand for allergies etc.

Each essential oil, with its own unique healing qualities, can be more beneficial when used in combination with other essential oils. An excellent example of this is the Thieves Oil, a combination of cinnamon, eucalyptus, clove, rosemary and lemon. It was found to be effective even during the times of the black plague.

Essential oils are an age-old discovery, trusted and routinely used by our ancestors for their many health benefits. Different cultures have experimented with it and found miraculous solutions to various afflictions. These recipes have been traditionally passed down to younger generations.

Knowing or unknowingly, you probably already used essential oils at some point in the past, when modern medicine turned out to be ineffective. Check your grandma’s medical stash, or better still ask her about it. When you find it, share the secret of this natural gift with us in the comments and tell us about it!

The post How to Make Essential Oils appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

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7 Simple Ways To Help Honey Bees

7 Simple Ways To Help Honey Bees Did you know that you cold help save the bees in your own back garden? I found 7 Simple Ways To Help Honey Bees. I have been thinking about our poor bees for a while and I went hunting the internet to see if I could do anything to …

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70+ Preparedness Gardening Projects

70+ Preparedness Gardening Projects Gardening has and always will be an important preparedness tool in aiding us towards self sufficiency and survival. With out it we wouldn’t last log in a SHTF situation. Having food stockpiled is great and will keep you fed but what would you do if the emergency you were in didn’t …

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How to Get a Free Survival Map of Your Local Area

How to Get a Free Survival Map of Your Local Area A survival map is an important part of any survival kit. There is no excuse not to have one because getting one is quick, easy, and free. Print maps of all areas you may need in the event of an emergency. If you have a …

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Basic Essentials for Cooking Fish Off the Grid

survival_fish_fire_cook

survival_bucket_of_fishFish are a nutritional powerhouse; with lots of protein, healthy fats, and a potent cocktail of nutrients that influence human brain function, optimize hormonal production, and even prevent aging! They’re also a camper or survivalist’s dream come true. Why, you may ask?  Fish go fin-in-stream with the most important resource – water! Whether you love the outdoors, want to be a little greener, or need to eat to survive, learning to cook fish using traditional “off-the-grid” methods is a useful addition to any culinary arsenal. There are a many techniques available to catch wild fish, ranging from building your own rod to catching with your bare hands, but this article is going to discuss how to best cook up your catch.

By John S., a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog & SurvivalCache

First, let us discuss the different types of fish meat. “Oily” or “fatty” fish are fish that are over five percent fat by weight, while lean fish are under five percent. Oily fish include anchovies, carp, herring, salmon and sardines. They are generally known for their moist texture and richer flavors. Lean fish include bass, cod, catfish, and perch. They’re known for being a little tougher and a little less flavorful. Your location will be a big factor in determining what types of fish are available to you. Study up on your local species to be best prepared to feed yourself, for fun or survival.

Baking on Smoldering Coals

survival_coals_fishOne of the best, and most basic, off the grid cooking techniques is baking on smoldering coals. While this method is useful for any kind of meat, it adds a certain smoky edge to fish that’s extremely delicious. Oilier fish are especially good when cooked with this method, since the hearty fats seal in a moist texture. Salt is a staple in every kitchen, and you may often hear people talking about bringing salt on outdoor excursions. This isn’t only for the taste, but it’s also especially useful in preserving food, so you should take care to keep some with you on all outdoor cooking excursions and during your survival practice.

Read Also: Best Glide Survival Fishing Kit

As for leaner fish, they’ll bake best wrapped in foil or, in an emergency situation, large leaves will do the trick. The wrapping helps trap moisture in and steams the fish. Feel free to dress a coal-baked fish up with some lemon juice and butter if you’re cooking for leisure! It’s probably safe to say you won’t have these items handy during a survival situation, but in that situation, anything edible, and especially nutritious, will be delicious.

Pan Frying (if possible)

fish_survival_pan_fryingFrying the fresh catch in a large cast iron pan is also an option, if you came prepared with the pan and a little oil. If you’re frying for fun, a simple mix of flour, breadcrumbs and your favorite seasonings will keep well in a zip lock bag, is easy to transport, and makes for yummy treat. Even without the mix, the fish will be a great meal on it’s own; especially if you’re eating for survival. The biggest key is to make sure the oil is hot enough, a spit test should do the trick. Simply wet your fingers with some water and flick the moisture into the pan, if the oil “spits”, or jumps and bubbles, on contact, then you’re ready to cook.

You will need long tongs or a durable cooking spoon to flip and “fish” out the filets once they’ve fried to a light golden color. This method tastes great, even with only light salting, and works well for both types of fish. If no tongs or cooking spoons are in your repertoire, you can use a multi-tool or knife so long as you’re careful not to damage it, as you will need it for other important tasks as well. Worst case, there should be twigs and sticks around for you to use as cooking tools.

Building Your Own Smoker

Last, but not least, fish meat is fabulous fresh out of a smoker. Not only is it fresh, but smoking fish, or any meat for that manner, is optimal for survival-based situations because prolonged smoking results in dehydrated, well-preserved food that can be saved and stored for several days. Building, or finding, a smoker can be tricky, you just need to create a small space where a rack can hang above a fire and a ventilation system to bring the smoke up through the fish meat.

Related: Teach Them to Fish

Stacking appropriately-sized rocks is a good and, usually, convenient method of construction. Covering the vents with foliage can help trap in smoke and improve the cooking process, and burning clean, dry logs will provide the best smoky flavor for the food. While this process does take longer than the other two, the preservation effects of smoking could mean the difference between life and death, so it’s definitely worth learning about and practicing. For example, if you are in a survival situation and are having luck catching some fish, you may want to use a lot of that meat in the smoker simply for preservation, and then consume the meat at a later time when you may be running low on food.

Conclusion

survival_fish_filetLuckily, there are a lot of options when it comes to preparing fish off the grid using very little materials. Salt is perhaps one of the most underrated items in a survival situation, as it offers a convenient method of preservation. Adding other herbs, spices and extras will provide a welcome kick to your next camping meal, but of course, this may be out of the question in a survival situation. Lastly, Always make sure any fish you consume is thoroughly cleaned and cooked before consuming. This, combined with thorough cooking, will ensure you have a nice edible fish packed with nutrients to keep you going. Practice makes perfect, so next time you’re out in the backcountry or doing some camping, try cooking some fish with as little materials as possible, ideally using natural objects around you. Good luck!

 

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How to Make a Simple DIY Canoe

Typically when I write an article I am writing based on my own experiences. Yes, believe it or not I actually live or have lived the things I write about! My grandparents were sharecroppers that lived eight people in a four room house on a farm with no running water until the late 1970’s and I loved spending my summers there when I was young.

Even when my dad finally hooked up running water for his parents and gave grandma a washing machine and real kitchen sink we still had to go to the outhouse to take care of business. Grandma always had a vegetable garden and canned her home grown veggies as well as sewed her clothes and made quilts.

My other grandparents came from similar backgrounds. My mother’s mother actually lived in a farm house when she was young during the depression. When they swept the kitchen floor the odd bits of food would fall through cracks in the floor boards going under the house where the chickens would gobble it up.

All of the clothes they wore were handmade, just as the patchwork quilts on their beds were made from scraps of material left over from making clothes. After decades of experience my grandmother made the most beautifully intricate patterns in her handmade quilts.

From Need Comes Ingenuity

All of my grandparents lived through the great depression and WWII (one grandfather was actually a corpsman in Europe and was injured in combat), and so often they had to improvise and make do with what they had. Suffice it to say, I learned a great deal from these people about how to survive on your wits, and how to fish, hunt, camp, and garden, as well as a number of other things. I can do pretty much everything I try to do. I’ve rarely had to call a repair man.

My mother learned from her mother how to can food and sew. When we were kids most of the clothes we wore my mother made. Then this was just how life was for a great deal of people, now many people are trying to get back to these roots. This is what brings us here.

History of the Canoe

Here in North America the Native Americans made hide covered and birch bark canoes. These were made with a frame of bentwood covered with animal hide or birch bark which peeled in fairly large sheets from birch trees for the hulls.

The canoe is a simple boat that examples of can be found all over the world. From the large, hollowed out logs with outriggers of the Polynesians, (remember the intro to the 70’s television show Hawaii 5-0?) to frames covered in animal hide or tree bark. Many indigenous peoples utilized this vessel for traversing the waterways in their area.

The covering would typically be stitched with rawhide lace or plant fiber, and all of the seams would be sealed with white pine pitch. Cedar planking would be used for the floor. Some were made with cedar plank hulls and then covered with hide to waterproof it.

detail of half of a canoe

Diagram: detail of half of a canoe

Getting Started: Gathering Supplies

A fairly easy to make survival canoe can be made utilizing these same principles. If you are pressed for time and happened to have a tarp or large sheet of sturdy plastic, you can make a simple frame using materials at hand like reeds or saplings, or thin branches from surrounding trees.

By using green material (living plants) it will easily bend into shape without much effort or fear of breakage and by being green the material will have some flexibility and more strength than dried material of equal size. A pencil thick stick of dried wood will easily break but a green stick will merely bend.

To start gather a few armloads of material for the frame. This should be about 1/4”-1/2” in diameter, (.6-1.25cm) for the vertical ribs and 1/2”-1” (1.25-2.5cm) for the keel and horizontal frame members. Start by making four rings of two sizes, two approximately 18” (45cm) in diameter, and two approximately 36” (90cm) in diameter.

Do the Math… It All Adds Up

If you are a smaller framed person you can probably make it a little smaller but I’m 6’ and 260 pounds (183cm and 118 kg) so I want something with a little room. When constructing your canoe consider that to float comfortably with you in it you will want to displace about twice your weight.

How to Adjust for Your Weight

If you have supplies don’t forget to add that extra weight to the equation. Water weighs 8 pounds per gallon (1kg per 1L), so if you weigh 240 pounds (109kg) and you have 100 pounds (45kg) of gear then you need to displace at least 680 pounds (308kg), or 85 gallons (322L) to ensure a safe float. Consider that most standard canoes have a weight capacity of 800 pounds (363kg) (so even if you don’t need to build quite that big) it is a guideline to work around.

More Supplies

Making the Rings

So anyway, now that you have all the materials start by making your four rings. Construct them by bending the sticks into a circle entwining them and lashing them together. If you don’t have cord you can use strips of cloth from your own clothing if you have it to spare, if not then you will have to use material from your surroundings.

2 steps for a diy canoe

Constructing the Strips

If you have plastic water bottles you can cut strips from it by cutting in a spiral like peeling an apple, cut these about 1/4” wide. After you lash it with the plastic strip if you have access to fire you can gently heat the strips and they will shrink tight. If nothing else is available plant fiber may be your only option.

Dry vs. Wet Fibers

Suitable fiber can be obtained from most tree bark, the fibrous layer between the wood and outer bark from dead trees is best. If there are only live trees available peel the bark only along one side, peeling all the way around the tree will kill it. You can peel the bark off the twigs and branches you used for the frame.

Wet fibers will have to be dried by placing them inside your clothes next to your body or over a fire. If you happened to have fishing gear with you monofilament line will work for lashing as well, just be sure to save enough for fishing.

Here is a decent video on how to make cordage from bark.

Start Building

The Foundation

  • Space the rings equally apart along a 1” diameter stick (or two lashed together) about 10- 12 feet long for the keel (the keel is the bottom most frame part upon which a vessel is built). Two more like this positioned on about the 2 and 10 o’clock position on the rings make the gunnel (or gunwale, this is the top edge of the boat).
  • Place two more positioned at about the 5 and 7 o’clock positions, bring these all together at either end of the canoe and lash them together. This will complete the horizontal framework.
  • Next bend the 1/4”-1/2” diameter sticks around these horizontal frame rails about every foot or so to form the ribs. Lash all of this together firmly. Make sure you have the ribs (and everything else for that matter) as even as possible to maintain stability of the vessel.
  • Now that you have the ribs in place you can put a floor in your canoe by lining the bottom with 1/4”-1/2” diameter sticks and lashing them to the ribs. It doesn’t have to be a solid floor but at least a couple inches apart so your foot can’t go through and damage the hull material.

Home Stretch

At this point, if you have a tarp or plastic you just spread it out on the ground and place the frame in the center. Be sure to clear the area of rocks and sticks so you don’t make holes in the material, you don’t want any leaks.

Pull the tarp up over one side and lash it in place. If you do find any holes in your tarp you can patch it with pine pitch and a cut off piece of the tarp material or some plant fiber.

Next, stretch the tarp as taught as possible up over the other side and lash it in place. Make sure the edges are even, any excess can just lie in the boat and it won’t hurt anything. If there is enough extra you could add a few sticks to make an awning to shade you from the weather if it’s hot or raining.

Now that you have the sides in place work on the ends, pulling the material as tight as possible and lashing it into place. If you are using a tarp it likely has grommeted holes along the edge, you can use these but you will still need to make more. Since these holes are along the top or inside you won’t need to worry about sealing them.

Here’s a great example of a survival “kayak” being built (the guy in the video titled it as a kayak but it looks like a canoe to me):

Motor-Vating

Now that you have completed the vessel (or you can do this while you are drying your cordage material) you need to make it go. Since it would be extremely difficult to build a bush craft engine, ok, impossible, you will need to make a paddle. And yes, it’s a paddle not an oar. A paddle is held by the boater and not connected to the boat, while an oar is connected to the boat via oar locks mounted in the gunnel.

You could make a single paddle, this would be easiest, but whatever you do make I suggest that you make two just in case it doesn’t hold up well or you drop it in the water and lose it. You wouldn’t want to be up the creek without a paddle. You can also make a double paddle, this is easiest to use but harder to make.

A double paddle has the flat part on both ends of a longer pole (8’ or so) so you can paddle left to right (or right to left) with alternating strokes without having to cross your body with your arms like you have to do with a single paddle. In my opinion the double paddle is better.

canoe paddle

Constructing Your Paddle

To make the paddle you need to get a stick about four or five feet long, 1 1/2” in diameter with a fork on the end. Cut the fork so that you have two equal ends about 18” long. Leave the ends of the fork spread and weave over and under with strips of bark or some wide bladed grass or water plant like a cat tail.

The cattail material is much stronger when dried so after you weave the paddle suspend it over the fire to dry it, same for the seat material, or dry it before you weave it. To make a double paddle simply make two paddles with longer handles and lash them together. They will need to be two to three feet longer to overlap for lashing together.

Paddle by Hatchet

Another way of making a paddle requires a hatchet or axe and is considerably more labor intensive and likely less practical. If you do just happen to have a hatchet you can make a solid wood paddle from a log of about 8” in diameter. You need to make wooden wedges and drive them into the log to split it in order to get a flat piece of wood to work with. Once you have accomplished this you then just shape the paddle with your hatchet.

Here is a video of someone making a wooden paddle:

The Humble Cattail

Cattail grows all over the world on water’s edge. Cattail is easily identifiable by the very distinguishable hotdog shaped brown flower that grows on the ends of a single, long stalk.

cattail drawing

The Many Uses of Cattail

If you find cattail not only can you use the leaves to weave paddle blades and seats for your canoe, but you can use the fibers from the long, wide-bladed leaves for various uses.

Cattails as Food

The root is an edible tuber. It doesn’t taste good, sort of like dirt, but it’s edible and actually fairly nutritious. If you do harvest the plant for the leaves and the tuber for consumption please cut off the portion of the tuber with the plant and leave part of the tuber in the ground so that a new plant can grow. You can even make cattail flour! Cattails produce more edible starch per acre than rice, potatoes, or yams!

Cattails as a Weaving Material

Since we’re on the subject of cattails, if you do happen to have an ample supply you can also make your cordage from the leaves as well as baskets for gathering and storing gathered food such as the aforementioned tubers, berries, or other edibles.

Here is a good video on making cordage from cattail leaves:

You can also use the cattail leaves to weave a seat for the canoe if you so choose and want to spend the extra time to keep you from having to kneel the whole time. To do this you just need to add a few cross members where you wish the seat to be then weave the cattail leaves through them. “Viola”, a seat!

Here’s a good video tutorial for weaving with cattail leaves:

More uses for cattails are drying the bulbous flower end for fire tinder and using the full stalk as a torch.

But What If?

But what if you don’t have a tarp or plastic or tent to cover your canoe frame with? That’s a very good question, the short answer is to be better prepared, and the long answer is start peeling bark. Birch bark is ideal as it peels off in large sheets and is pretty durable. Birch bark canoes have been made for thousands of years.

This method of construction is more painstaking and time consuming than the survival method described above and this is not a temporary canoe but rather an actual true canoe that will last for years.

 

Final Thoughts

The real key to making it through a survival situation is to live being as self-sufficient as possible in your daily life. Native Americans and other indigenous peoples around the world lived off the land for thousands of years and as civilization encroached upon their lands more and more of this knowledge was lost.

Today many people are concerned about the durability of society as we have become accustomed to our easy, comfortable way of life, and so they are trying to regain this lost knowledge. With the spirit of independence, if you learn to live at one with the land then you can never be lost; you can only be in a different location doing the same things you would do anywhere else.

If you’re not accustomed to living outdoors off the land, just look at it as rustic camping. Camping is actually good practice for survival in the woods, when we were kids we used to run off into the woods for days at a time with a fishing pole, a pellet gun or a .22, a knife and a blanket or sleeping bag; sometimes we took a tent. Of course when we got older we drove to the lake and set up tents and got out the cooler and lawn chairs, built a fire and enjoyed the fresh air and crickets while we waited for a fish to get on the line.

Certainly if you are ever lost in the wilderness you will want to get back to where you call home, where your loved ones are (and your stuff) but in the mean time you will just have to live life. Find food, find water, make shelter and use the land to facilitate these goals.

Whether it’s making a weapon to hunt meat, a bow drill to start fires, weaving plants into a canopy or basket, or making a canoe to travel down the stream if you are living in the manner of self sufficiency you can never be truly lost.

The post How to Make a Simple DIY Canoe appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

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Using Leftover Fruit Peels in the Kitchen

Using Leftover Fruit Peels in The Kitchen Being frugal is the essence of emergency preparedness. No matter how you look at it, emergency preparedness is about reusing what you have. It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling into the wilderness or if you are in cooking in the kitchen. Being frugal in the kitchen means learning …

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February Seed Starting Schedule

February Seed Starting Schedule February is the month when indoor seed starting begins for most gardeners.  Even those of you that live in some of the coldest parts of the country will be able to start a few seedlings in February.  A few basic supplies and a simple shop light are all you need to …

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DIY Mason Jar Bee Hive

DIY Mason Jar Bee Hive Making a mason jar beehive is super easy and the benefits of having one will help you out beyond belief. These are so simple this hive thrives in urban areas too. If you know anything about bees you know that having your own hive can be as easy as a …

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The Single Most Important Gun to Own and Why

If you could only own one gun, which one would you choose?  A handgun?  A shotgun?  A defensive rifle?  A hunting rifle? Obviously, it only makes sense to want to purchase the most important gun to own first. You never know when a grid down disaster will happen, so disaster may very well strike before you finish building your arsenal.

In this article, I’ll reveal what the most important type of gun is, the reasons behind that, and the qualities you need to look for in a model of that type.

THE PISTOL OVER THE SHOTGUN

If you ask gun owners or survivalists what they feel the most important all-around gun to own is, the most common answer you will likely get is a pump action shotgun in 12 gauge or 20 gauge.

There’s no denying that a pump shotgun generally is a very versatile and practical weapon, and belongs in any gun collection. When loaded with birdshot, it’s an excellent weapon for clay shooting or bird/small game hunting. Swap out those out with buckshot, and you have one of the most devastating home defense weapons you could ask for.  If you opt to use slugs, you can use it for hunting bigger game such as deer and wild boar.

There’s just one thing that a shotgun can’t do, and that is be concealed adequately on your person.  Okay, you can hide a shotgun on if you’re wearing a big heavy trench coat, but that’s also going to be very suspicious doing that and attract unnecessary attention to yourself (not only from other civilians, but likely from law enforcement officers as well).

The point is that you can’t conceal a shotgun on you while you’re going about your daily life.  Sure you can keep it in your car, but in the event of a robbery at a restaurant or grocery store are you really going to be able to run out to the parking lot to retrieve it?  Most likely not.

This is why the shotgun is not the single most important gun to own. Instead, the most important gun to own is a pistol, and specifically a semi-automatic that can be easily concealed on your person.

WHY A PISTOL?

First of all, there are many limitations to a pistol that detractors to this argument will bring up.  Pistol rounds can be substantially underpowered compared to rifle rounds and have less velocity coming out of the shorter barrel. But, you can hunt all kinds of game with any caliber of handgun. There are all kinds of hunting you can do with handguns. Jerry Miculek shot a 1000 yard shot accurately with a 9mm S&W revolver, I don’t care who you are, if you are a human and if you get hit with that bullet, you can die.

Maybe everyone can’t make this shot, put this shows it’s possible. Limitations are in the shooter, not the gun. World record shot here:

Bob Munden shot a balloon at 600 yards with a .38 snub nose.

The fact that you can easily conceal a handgun on your person outweighs any negatives, both in your everyday life and in an SHTF disaster scenario.

In your everyday life, the time where you need to use your gun will happen when you least expect it or want it.  It will take you completely by surprise and you will need to act within seconds.  If you do indeed need to use your weapon for self-defense, it’s always going to be easier to reach for the gun under your shirt than it is to run out to your car to grab a long gun (by then, it could be too late).

In other words, you can take your pistol with you wherever you go, which is an advantage over a shotgun or a rifle. At home, you can keep your pistol strapped to your side at all times. There have been many stories of how people will keep a defensive shotgun or rifle in a closet or gun safe, but are then attacked by burglars at the front door and are unable to access that shotgun or rifle.

In contrast to this, with a pistol all you have to do is drop your hand down to your hip, draw the weapon, and fire. So in a way, a pistol is a more convenient home defense weapon than a twelve gauge shotgun is.

In any kind of a disaster, whether it is a terrorist attack, economic collapse, power grid down, or a natural disaster, the pistol will be the most important firearm to have in an SHTF scenario.

Again, you can easily conceal a pistol on your person under your shirt or jacket so that you are reasonably armed without anyone noticing. If dangers arise and you are attacked by raiders or marauders, you can then quickly draw your pistol to defend yourself and your family instead of having to run to where you keep your long gun.

WHAT IS THE BEST PISTOL TO OWN?

Now that we have established why a pistol is the most important firearm you can own, you might be wondering what the best ones are.  The most versatile is a compact 9mm double stacked pistol.  Let’s talk about why that is.

First of all, you should opt for a semi-automatic over a revolver. Semi-autos hold far more bullets in the magazine and reload faster. In a defensive situation where you have multiple attackers coming at you, having 15 or so rounds in your magazine will be better than having 5 or 6 in a cylinder. It takes far less time to slam in a new magazine and rack the slide than it does to swing out the cylinder, eject the spent shells, load in new shells either individually or with a speed loader, and close the cylinder again. The pistol is simply a more advanced design than the revolver and better suited for the 21st Century.

Secondly, your semi-automatic should ideally be chambered for 9mm over other popular calibers such as .40 S&W or .45 ACP. There are a couple of reasons for this.  9mm is far cheaper and more plentiful than either of those two options, so you’ll save quite a bit of money in stockpiling ammo. This also makes the 9mm a more appealing option for those on a budget.

The 9mm also offers less recoil than .40 or .45 ACP, and since it’s smaller in size and diameter, you can pack more bullets in each magazine. While the 9mm FMJ is not the ideal pistol round for self-defense, with the jacketed hollow point self-defense loads it offers plenty of stopping power.

You should also aim to make your 9mm pistol, a compact double stacked model similar size to the Glock 19.  This way, your pistol will be small enough to conceal on your person and yet offer enough firepower to defend yourself against multiple attackers (double stacked magazines always hold more rounds than single stacks do).

Examples of specific pistols that fit these criteria include the Glock 19 or 26, Walther PPQ, Taurus PT111 G2, Smith & Wesson M&P Compact, Bersa Thunder 9mm Compact, Ruger SR9 Compact, Beretta 92FS Compact, Beretta Px4 Storm Compact, and the SIG Sauer P320 Compact.

When selecting a specific pistol to buy, the best piece of advice that can be given is to go to your local sporting goods store and hold several models in your hand.  Just because one particular pistol is ergonomic to someone doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be for you as well, and you’ll never know until you actually hold them.

CONCLUSION

Is the pistol the only gun that you should own? No. Guns are like tools in a toolbox, meaning there is no one gun that does everything for you. But, if you can only own one gun it should be a pistol. The very fact that you can easily conceal a pistol on you and travel with it will be very big advantages in your day-to-day life and in a disaster grid down situation.

The post The Single Most Important Gun to Own and Why appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

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$3 DIY Bamboo Longbow

$3 DIY Bamboo Longbow The long bow! One of the earliest weapons made by man. You can make your own from Bamboo for around 3 bucks! This is pretty powerful and will be plenty adequate to hunt small game and maybe even mid size animals. I found a great tutorial that shows you how to …

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The Cricket Trailer: RV with Low Costs to Combat High Gas Prices

The Cricket Trailer: RV with Low Costs to Combat High Gas Prices The Cricket trailer is a great option for a camping or bug out trailer. Low cost, lots of usable space. This trailer will quite literally rock your world. Before you start reading this could I trouble you to vote for this website as …

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Essential Oils for Common Sense Disaster Preparedness

Essential Oils for Common Sense Disaster Preparedness Essential Oils have become very popular in the past 5 years not only to heal ailments, freshen rooms naturally and clean the house but in the preparedness community especially. I have been looking for a great article on essential oils for a while now and as I only …

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Best Canned Goods for Starting Food Storage – Starter Kit

Having a month supply of food storage is simpler than you might think.  It’s known as a food storage starter kit.  In one box (19 x 13 x 7.5) you can put 6 cans of food that will make 90 meals.  The 6 cans are a bit bigger [...]

The post Best Canned Goods for Starting Food Storage – Starter Kit appeared first on Preppers Survive.

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20 Tiny House Plans You Can DIY

20 Tiny House Plans You Can DIY Tiny house living basically means living minimally in a small home with a size of under 500 square feet. If you’ve never heard of this concept before, you might think that it’s weird because isn’t it better to live in a modern, big house like those celebrities’ homes you …

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Hiding Home Guns in Plain Sight

hiding_guns_plain_sight_featured

hiding_guns_dog_couchThe idea of packing iron around the house at home every day does not appeal to everyone.  So, what are some alternatives to toting your favorite personal defense gun from room to room all the time?  It may sound problematic to hide multiple guns around the house all day or night, but some other approaches can put defense guns within reach as needed.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

First of all, if you want a hide gun in every room of the house, then there is nothing wrong with that “overkill” concept as it were, but just be certain that your domicile is secure inside and that everyone residing there knows guns are hidden around the place and where exactly they reside.  Ideally they will be trained in quick response actions as you cannot be home all the time.

If you have young children at home or school children in and out, then extra caution is needed to avoid accidents or misuse.  One idea is to place firearms up in higher places not easily accessed by young prowling eyes and fingers.  

In reverse, if you are retired and at home a lot, then you can pick your own strategies for placing easy to reach firearms so long as you can remember where they are.  That is not as funny as it might seem.  Us older folks often go to the garage, freezer or work room and forget why we are there.  Deal with it.  

The Home Scenarios

city_dangerous-2An investigation of national crime statistics does reveal an increase in home invasions over the past decade especially in certain high crime areas of America.  Think also in terms of such crimes that could just as well impact your bug out location during a SHTF event.  Wherever you reside at any given time is under the same potential threat.  This extends to travel. Whether you stay in a motel, an RV camping area, an interstate highway rest area, a national park, or at any bug out location, the threat potential remains the same.  

So, what is defined as a home invasion?   We typically think of this crime as somebody breaking in our house while we are at work, school, shopping, or just gone.  They steal easy to grab valuables or stuff to hock at a pawn shop or on the street, then are gone in a flash.  Don’t ever discount securing your home against these crimes in the first place by installing extra locks, hardened secure doors, and monitored security systems.  

Read Also: Handling an Active Shooter Situation

Such break ins are one thing, but an invasion implies that somebody is at home at the time and therefore subject to the active threat.  Often these threats can turn violent. Sexual assault, battery, and even death can result from such home invasions.  “Leave no witnesses” is the standard mantra of scummier home invaders.

So, there you sit watching television in the den, office, or man cave, your wife is in the kitchen, or sewing room, and the kids are playing on their Wii.  In such a scenario, you have little precious time or none to unlock a safe, open a locked gun closet, or other security practice to grab a gun to defend yourself in order to confront the threat that crashes violently into your house.  Multiple Hornady gun vaults might be an option.   

What you need is a defensive gun you can grip as you dash from your chair to the breeched entryway.  It has to be conveniently placed and easy to grab virtually without thinking about it.  It is a mindset for sure, that should be practiced.  

hidden_gun_bathroomSee just how long it takes you to get out of your repose, grab a gun across the room, or in the TV controller console or off the top of a bookcase.  Practice also lying on your bed, as though awakened at night, reading your favorite magazine in the restroom, or other common in home activities.  Become comfortable in your movements, time response, and skills at getting into a defensive mode.  It might stop an invasion and save lives.

Selecting Home Guns

browning_hi_power_close_upPicking just the right home hiding gun is about as difficult as selecting ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins.  There are a lot of flavors to choose from and a whole bunch of them are really good.  This is a decision you have to make for yourself and other family members in terms of what you are comfortable with using, handling, loading, charging, aiming and shooting well especially in tight, pseudo-confined spaces such as down a hallway, or foyer, or room doorway.

The best probable choice would likely be a handgun, revolver or pistol in the category of a universal concealed weapon.  That means small, easy to grip, handle, and to hide.  Sure, I like a big Smith .44 Magnum with a 4-inch barrel, but it would not be the ideal handgun for this task.  For this purpose, look at the 9mm or perhaps a .380 ACP with proper specialized defensive ammunition.  

Related: The Unappreciated 10mm Auto

If you like and can handle a 1911 semi-auto in the .45 ACP, then more power (literally) to you.  These are not choices anybody else can make for you.  The same principle stands if your choice, or a secondary hide gun would be a shotgun in 12 or 20 gauge.  Some even might be thinking a defensive rifle such as an AR-15 as a selection, but these could become problematic once a threat is already inside the house.  

In this discussion, one also has to consider the issue of bullet penetration when shooting inside a dwelling.  There is ammunition available now that is intended for interior defensive use.  The penetration and bullet expansion is controlled so as not to overpower the construction materials of a typical house, therefore not creating a threat to innocents in other parts of the dwelling.  If you question this, practice your ammo choices on some sheetrock, 2×4 lumber, and plywood, so you’ll know its capabilities.  

Also consider now whether to reply on one gun model with multiples placed in the house, or a one or two gun approach.  Whatever route you choose, make certain every participant in the family is fully versed and practiced with your in home hidden defensive gun(s) defensive plan.  

Hiding Home Guns

guns_hidden_doorWhere to hide an easy to grab defensive weapon?  Walk the house, tour every room, including the kitchen and bathrooms.  Where do you spend the majority of your time in the house?  Scan each room with the singular goal in mind to identify secure locations to place or hide a firearm.  Maybe among the books in a bookshelf, on a fireplace mantle, down beside the cushion of a couch, next to the television or stereo system.  

Nearby every entry door, maybe on an umbrella stand, or next to a flower vase on a table.  Perhaps there is a foyer piece of furniture to hide it.  At other entries, maybe hangers mounted above the doors, or a window sill.  They may be placed visible inside, but never allow them to be spotted from the outside.  

Be creative where you hide home guns, but always with safety in mind.  Propping a shotgun in the corner of a room may be convenient, but not secure.  Place them with care, and practice moving to those locations, and drawing the weapon into a defensive position.  And then hope it never comes to that.  But, if it should, you’ll be ready.  

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How to Get Your Chicken to Lay More Eggs

Does it seem that your egg collection is decreased or that your hens aren’t laying as they once did? Or the yolks are pale and lackluster, lacking the nutrients they should provide? When the chickens are part of a plan for independent living or as a structured food supply, this can put a damper on things and thwart being able to rely on them as a nutritional resource. It can be a catastrophic event in a survival situation to have your chickens stop producing a crucial food source.

Eggs come from happy and healthy chickens, so a few tweaks here and there in your program can improve egg yields immensely. In an emergency situation it may be already too late to solve the problem, so here are the top tips and tried methods for getting your chickens to lay more eggs for a bountiful future.

Remember They Are Birds

The first thing to remember is that they are living creatures with their own hierarchy and social order, literally a “pecking order.” Although they have been domesticated ever since someone discovered how tasty they were, along with their ability to be good little producers of versatile daily nuggets high in protein, the most important thing to keep in mind is that chickens still retain their wild bird instincts.

These instincts include foraging, pretending to fly, the desire to roam and scratch for their food, and the mental need to hunt their food. If you do not have the luxury of a large area for roaming, you can still build a nice comfortable coop that suits their everyday needs while providing a good diet. Meeting these needs will be rewarded with the nice steady production of quality eggs.

Put the Egg First

Before we start adding things that go into the chicken, let’s talk about output, the egg. The egg is an amazing little structure. A porous shell offers external protection, this shell mainly consists of calcium carbonate with an invisible barrier made of protein. This protective protein barrier is called the cuticle and it acts as a shield to prevent contamination from bacteria. The nutrient dense yolk is suspended in a liquid composed of protein and water called the albumen that acts as a shock absorber and cushion.

egg diagram small

A chicken egg provides 6-7 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat, fatty acids, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. To achieve the highest nutritional output in an egg, it’s important a laying hen is provided a well-balanced diet that is nutrient rich with a diverse diet and fresh, clean water daily.

Top Reasons Chickens Stop Laying Eggs

If you have already had your chickens stop producing, don’t worry its fixable with just a few simple modifications! To understand how to get your chickens to lay more eggs, we need a quick overview of the main reasons chickens stop laying eggs.

Temperature

Having chickens on the ground where it’s drafty or damp, or if they are housed in a poorly sealed coop will affect your egg production as chickens do not fare well in anything but a warm, dry environment.

Light

Chickens lay eggs as a means to reproduce. In winter when a chick has the odds against him for survival, the chicken’s body goes into shut down mode by way of its endocrine system. The endocrine system is signaled to slow production when the daylight hours get shorter.

Molt

About once a year chickens molt and that process can last 3-6 weeks. Having several ages can help negate any lags in production.

Protein needs

When the temperature turns cooler the chickens need more protein to burn as calories. If this higher calorie need goes unmet, the chicken’s body produces fewer eggs to save on expenditure.

Stress

Being prey to most animals makes a chicken nervous about anything it can’t control. Loud noises, excessive noise in its surroundings, or the scent of strange animals can almost guarantee the chicken will stop production.

The Best Ways to Get Your Chicken to Lay More Eggs

We have covered the basics in chicken husbandry and what things can affect egg production. So now for the good news! A productive flock is as important to hobbyists as well as the off the grid lifestylists. Some people keep chickens as pets of course, but for those that are primarily raising a flock for the nutrition packed eggs production can be increased with some simple finessing and system tweaks.

Here are some of the best ways to get your chicken to lay more eggs, or how to get more bang for your “cluck”!

Basic Nutrition

No matter how happy or stress free your hen is, you must provide the basic requirements in her feed in order to have your hens lay. Good quality feed supplemented with oyster shells (or leftover egg shells) need to be available for her to peck at. Clean water is a must and should be readily available 24 hours a day.

This is a nice video on making your own GMO free protein-rich food:

How to Feed a Balanced Diet to a Laying Hen

Supplements

Oyster shell is the most common supplement for chickens, especially laying hens as the calcium provided by the shell is needed to make a healthy and strong egg. Many, as we do, use a portion of their leftover egg shells to add to the oyster shells. Without calcium supplements, the laying hen will pull it from her bones and it is similar to osteoporosis.

Kiss my grits

Good food and quality supplements are only half the battle, you need grit and oyster shell to supply the best possible foods for your chickens so you can get the best quality eggs. When chickens roamed free they consumed small pieces of stone and gravel as they foraged naturally, this also can happen when they free-range. Chickens in an enclosure need that grit to be supplied to them as it acts as their “teeth” by grinding food in their gizzard. Without this grit, food cannot be broken down or absorbed properly.

No junk food

Much like with humans, low nutritional value foods that are high in carbs are a no-no for your chicken. Breads, white pasta, potatoes, dairy and white rice are not good for your laying hen. Of course, the comfort foods we love are dangerous for your feathered friends. No salty, sweet, or fried foods and especially no alcohol!

This is a list of foods that can be toxic for your flock:

  • No spinach
  • No asparagus
  • No citrus
  • No onions
  • No raw beans that have been dried
  • No apple seeds
  • No eggplant
  • No avocado

Here is a nice video about feeding year around to prevent a reduction in egg production:

Health conscious chicken treats

There are many things you CAN feed your chicken to promote more eggs and give them a healthy boost.

  • Oatmeal
  • Cottage cheese
  • Pumpkin
  • Melons
  • Sweet corn
  • Ginger
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Cucumbers
  • All grain pancakes
  • Mealworms

Hot tip: spicy. I had many people tell me that adding some red or green peppers boosted vitamin C and the chickens loved them.

red henShed Light on the Subject

A hen needs 12-15 hours of light a day to provide the best production numbers in eggs. Installing a light can help keep the production even during winter, or on cool nights. Lights infused with red can prevent cannibalism and keep the coop soothed and calm.Most chickens lay their eggs by 10 am, so after egg collection it’s time for your hens to go out and get some fresh air and light.

Build a Proper Coop with These Tips

There is no one specific design that is best for a chicken coop. But there are a few basics to consider when making a coop.

Personal space

Allow 2-3 square feet of space per laying hen and it is easier to build out later on if your flock increases in size.

Flooring

Dirt is not a deterrent to predators as they can easily dig under the edges. Wood can rot and house parasites. Concrete is expensive and can crack over time. The most current materials used for chicken coop flooring are vinyl over plywood. Plywood also can be easily replaced as needed.

Roosts

Each hen should have at least 8 inches of roost space.  The most common way is to use a 2×4’ with the wider side facing upwards for the roosting bar. This protects those delicate feet in winter from biting cold and frostbite.

Make nest boxes a priority

A good way to make egg collecting easy is to use nesting boxes. A nesting box also protects the egg and helps keep it clean. One rule of thumb is to have one nesting box for every 3-4 birds, and install them about 2 feet off the floor. A layer of soft litter like wood shavings or hay can provide cushion for the egg while absorbing droppings.

Coop ventilation

Year round air ventilation is a must for a healthy coop. A good measure of thumb is 1/5th of your wall space should be vented. We used hardware cloth to cover the vents to keep off the little varmints and creepy crawlies. Be sure to use washers and screws to secure it down and check it regularly for any rips or holes.

Keep a Clean Coop

No matter what system you employ, the main thing is to provide a nice place to live, avoid overcrowding your chickens, and keep them in a clean and dry environment. A regular schedule of laying fresh litter in their houses and removing droppings will help the hens from tracking feces and dirt into nesting boxes and the eggs within. Hens flourish in hygienic conditions and it is advisable to have a quarantine period for any new stock before they are introduced into the flock.

Disinfection

There is a lot of controversy on this. Many swear by bleach, but I do not like it around my animals or eating stock. After some trial and error, I use vinegar to disinfect my chicken coop and lots of elbow grease. I like to disinfect at least every few months by cleaning out everything and then giving it a good hosing. A liberal spray down with vinegar is next and then time drying in the sunlight, which also helps kill bacteria. I soak any bowls or feeding dishes in it, then leave them to dry in the sun also.

If you have your chickens on a dirt floor, you may want to use hay over barn lime to keep things dry and hay is dust free, unlike straw. It does need to be changed every week, but it can be added to the compost.

For smaller flocks, use a tarp. You can lay it out and then cover it in hay. It is easy clean up, as when cleaning time rolls around just fold that sucker up and drag it to the compost pile. Disinfect with vinegar before adding more hay and rebedding.

Rodent Control 101

Rodents can be devastating to a coop and any community they move too. Unfortunately chicken coops are a magnet for mice and rats. The main timeframe is the harvest in fall. Its then that rats will try to invade as their main food supply source is depleted. Colonies of mice will spring up by buildings and they tend to stay inside.

The biggest indicator that you have a problem is droppings. A rat has 40 droppings daily versus a mouse’s 80! This contaminates feed and exposes you, your livestock and your flock to diseases which can include salmonellosis, toxoplasmosis, cryptosporidiosis, and brucellosis.

Rodents are also responsible for more than 25% of all farm fires classified as “unknown origin.” These nocturnal dwellers can easily be underestimated, and can wreak havoc on your flock. They are predators and will seek out chicks. Rat infestations can consume hundreds of chicks a day.

The best steps to take to eliminate a rodent infestation around your chickens can be summed up in these 5 methods.

Tidy the coop

Deter the vermin by taking away all places they could set up shelter. Brush, woodpiles, or scrap piles should be well away from your coop.

Lock the feed up tight

Metal trashcans or drums are the best at deterring the little disease carriers, make sure the lid locks tight.

Build a wall or barrier

A mouse can squeeze into openings the size of your little finger, so sheet metal is the best bet to line your coop. Make sure your doors are in good repair with no entry points.

Trapping the pests

Physically removing the rats and mice is the best remedy. Place traps around the perimeter. Colony traps that hold many mice at once may be a good option.

Rodenticides

A last resort of course, and rodents can become immune, so switching it up is needed. Keep it away from other livestock and only in extreme circumstances do I use this. But if it’s between my flock and the mice, I do what I have to.

Thoughts on Confinement Vs. Free Range

Confinement and free-range options for keeping your flock have their advantages and disadvantages. Birds that can free-range will have more room and more opportunity to fulfill their need to be “free” to forage and hunt. But risks are abundant with threats by disease and predators. Being able to identify and find eggs quickly, as well eliminate problems in a timely manner is a plus to being in an enclosed environment.

Access to the Outdoors can help provide variety in their diet as well as plenty of time to take sunbathing and dust bathing seriously. But to me it’s not worth the risk to have them outside and unprotected 24 hours a day so we use a chicken tractor in summer and poultry netting in spring.

What Is a Chicken Tractor?

A chicken tractor is an attachable mobile coop with a trailer hitch that can be moved around so the chickens can have fresh grass and foraging area. It helps spread their fertilizer around the fields as well as keep bugs down as they have fun “exploring” their new surroundings. A happy, healthy hen is your most productive hen.

This is a great video explaining tips for a great chicken tractor:

 

Here are some free PDF plans if you want to build your own chicken tractor.

Exercise

Hens with more belly fat are impeded when it comes to producing eggs, so basic exercise is a must for physiological and mental health. Letting them scratch for their food gives them an activity that boosts base metabolic rates and keeps them warm and limber in winter. Throwing the girls leftover veggie table scraps or fresh cut grass and weeds straight from the garden will keep them happy little ladies.

Cabbage heads (the ends) and older lettuce pieces are fun to peck and I use the compost provided as they turn their food into the dirt and manure for my melon and survival gardens. Other ways to boost compost value would be to add corn cobs, carrot greens, melon rinds, kale, corn silks, or any other veggie leavin’s you may have. My girls love the after dinner treats and are lined up at the chicken yard’s gate waiting for them every evening!

Give Them Things to Do

Nothing is as fun to watch or as sweet as observing hens taking a dirt bath. Chickens like being clean and dirt baths are a way to do this and they promote healthy feathers by whisking away oils, sweat and parasites. If you do not offer a dirt bath, most flock owners come to find their chickens in the flower garden or in the crops.

A few sources claim wood ash is good for a bath or diatomaceous earth, but
I believe if I need a mask to be around it then it will get into my flock’s lungs also. I much prefer building my own dirt bath with a simple container that’s 24 x24” and at least a foot deep, or dig a hole and fill it. I use sand and dirt. This type of bath promotes sweet smelling ladies that are lice free, and it’s chemical free so you can’t beat that.

Stress Reduction

Stress is one of the top reasons why chickens stop egg production. A big stressor is also the cold on the body, as well as parasites irritating your chickens. Irritants such as pets, children, and loud music can affect production also. Chickens need a quiet, safe area to relax and claim as their own.

When bringing in new chickens, keep in mind that is a big stressor and production may stop for a few days to weeks as they adjust to their new surroundings. This is normal and soon they will pick back up where they left off when the transition is over.

Do you need a rooster to get your chicken to lay more eggs?

A rooster adds commotion and not much value to your flock unless you plan on raising hatchlings. For egg production, a rooster can make things worse. Plus half of your hatchlings will be roosters so be prepared to find new homes or cull the male chicks.

Culling for Optimum Production

Many people do not like the thought of culling their flock. For optimum production taking out the older laying hens and replacing them with young pullets not only keeps a chicken rotation going, but will release the need for the care of the older hens into retirement.

It is much more humane to find a loving home if you are attached. In situations where every resource has to not only produce, but be a functional part of a homesteaders life, it is better to butcher the older hens than let feed than can go to younger ones in their prime laying years be wasted on them. Soup stocks and frozen meat can last quite a while.

Here is a good video on making chicken stock, something to think on for those older hens not to go to waste:

Our son has a chicken friend taking advantage of the newly cut grass to forage for tasty little bugs. He has quite the following on mowing days.

Final Thoughts

Life with chickens is a rewarding experience in any homesteader or food self-sufficient lifestylists program as there are so many ways chickens can help in a garden and around the homestead.

Integrating a chicken flock can benefit a homestead with a constant supply of nutritional eggs, quality compost, and meat when needed. Starting a flock is inexpensive and with just a few tips and tricks you can have those chickens laying more eggs and start to stockpile your bounty. In the old days, every yard had a few chickens pecking around as the eggs were a means of survival. Now it is becoming more and more popular to raise your chickens as the nutritional value and taste of fresh eggs are so much better than anything you can buy in a store.

The post How to Get Your Chicken to Lay More Eggs appeared first on Survival Sullivan.

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