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UK media saying war by Wednesday

Many UK media sources believe its going to kick off this week between Ukraine, Russia and Nato, the Daily Mail is saying WAR on wednesday.   They report the costs of grain, animal feeds,natural gas, petrolium and diesel will go through the roof.

Internet may get jammed by military level hacking


GPS systems may be disrupted.

I would also redirect you to the thread about products made from oil and gas to see the likely impact on most of our daily essentials.

I’m filling all my fuel containers and treating it with Sta-bil,  increased food stocks to the tune of £300 worth, stocked up on firewood, medical supplies and stored water.

I’m an old dude so I can opinion on this but this reminds me of the darkest days of the Cold War.

If it goes off who knows how it could spiral.

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Another earthquake issue – Water

Water.  Water supply could be an issue after a quake.  Water lines, typically buried, could be broken or cracked, leading to H2O absence or contamination.  

We  have received boil water recommendations following the Northridge quake, which was some distance away.  Along with food and other essentials, I keep about thirty gallons dispersed around the property, along with means of water purification.

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NYT article on PNW tsunami threat

Hi all,

Just wanted to share this article from yesterday’s New York Times re: the tsunami aspect of the seismic hazard in the PNW and how communities are trying to prepare:

The article actually does a good job of explaining why a tsunami triggered by a Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) earthquake would be so destructive, touching not only on the oft-mentioned aspects of the hazard (e.g., the height of the wave; the arrival time) but also the fact that 12-20 minutes of lead time for evacuation does not get you as far (literally) on buckled, undriveable roads, and the fact that the coasts of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington have a lot of huge bays fronted by multi-mile-long, extremely low-lying sand spits that have been heavily developed and will literally be overtopped by the wave. (The article has tons of maps that illustrate this effectively.)

We’ll have to wait and see what happens after the votes on the various evacuation-tower-financing bond measures are cast, but it seems like there are some real signs that people in the affected communities are taking the threat seriously. It’s one thing when geologists at DOGAMI and the major research universities in the region offer journalists quotes about the number of thousands of people who will die; it’s another thing when a school superintendent says, “The fact of the matter is that if a tsunami occurs tomorrow, we are going to lose all of our children.” At least we’re (maybe) past the point where nobody in these communities is willing to confront the reality that they will not be able to evacuate.

I also read (too many of) the comments. It was interesting to see what wasn’t getting across/what people were confused about. For example, a lot of folks seemed to have a “these towers will never work!” reaction, but the Japanese have been building them for a while and there are engineering design guidelines for this type of structure. I’d really prefer a managed retreat strategy for a place like Ocean Shores than a bunch of expensive, ugly evacuation towers (especially since sea level rise will come for that town even if the tsunami holds off for a couple more centuries), but the former is so legally fraught and so much more costly that I just don’t see Washington, let alone Oregon, getting to it in a timely fashion. I suspect they’re going to let California figure it out first (with respect to climate change, i.e., not tsunamis), since California has money. That’s moving really slowly, though, so I feel like Oregon and Washington should maybe just invest in some towers in the meantime, you know?

Also, a lot of people were getting in “people shouldn’t live there!” arguments, and many of the people on Team People Shouldn’t Live There seemed to have the impression “there” consists of super wealthy communities where people with options have chosen to live because they “want an ocean view.” But a lot of the PNW coast is pretty economically depressed, and it’s less that people have chosen to live there than that they’re from there and it would be super challenging for them to relocate. Also, scientists didn’t really understand that these tsunami-generating mega-quakes could happen here until the 1990s, so of course people settled and built in dangerous places— they didn’t know they were dangerous!

The other interesting thing in the comments is just seeing the range of reactions. Some people were like, “So much for visiting Oregon and Washington ever in my life!” While some PNW commenters’ reactions were more along the lines of, “I’m figuring I’ll probably just die when it hits and I’m okay with that.” Personally, I visit the coast all the time, but don’t like being out on those spits. My husband has wanted to explore a couple of them (at Tillamook Bay and the mouth of the Columbia) and I was totally jittery the whole time. I also haven’t spent a night in the tsunami inundation zone since 1996 and have no intention of ever doing so again. 

So, I’m curious: Any PNWers out there have thoughts on any of this? (Or people from BC or Japan?) For those who aren’t PNWers, do you think we’re nuts to live here? 😀

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Joolca HOTTAP – a very impressive off-grid hot shower solution

I never click on Facebook ads, but today was an exception when I saw this hot shower system that works off propane. 

The product is pretty impressive, 30 day trial, free returns, only $270. Watching the above video, it looks like a quality company who has thought of everything and isn’t just putting out an inferior product to make a quick buck.

I’d like to get one of these as a backup shower system in case my hot water heater goes out or any number of natural disasters that could interrupt my shower time. It isn’t a NEED, but certainly would be a very welcome luxury.

I am not associated with this company and just wanted to share a cool product I saw and thought this community might enjoy.

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Testing $1 fire starters from Walmart. Insta-Fire and Firestart

While browsing the camping section at Walmart I saw two fire starters that were under a dollar. As you know, I am a bit of a pyro and wanted to test these out and see if they were the next big survival fire starter that I need to add to my supplies.

The first product is the “As Seen on Shark Tank” product called Insta-fire. I’ll call this the Dippin’ Dots fire starter. It claims to be:

Eco-friendly Smokeless Does not contain harmful chemicals Good for camping, emergency, fireplace, or campfire “Military Grade”! — Oooo… Fancy… Lights wet wood because it burns at 1000 degrees Burns on snow and floats on water Nonvolatile with no unexpected flare-ups Burns in winds up to 30 mph Has a 5 year shelf life, and more…

The second product is an indoor/outdoor fire log by Duraflame called Firestart. It more or less resembles the inside goo of a Fig Newton with bits of wood chips in it. It is sticky and I ended up tearing the wrapping while trying to get it out of the packaging.

Taking both products outside, I tried lighting a US quarter sized piece of each. The ferro rod was not able to ignite either one so I switched to my trusty Zippo lighter and held the flame to each product for over 10 seconds. The Firestart did not light and the Insta-Fire lit for a few seconds before going out. It wasn’t even a particularly windy day and I was blocking the flame with my hand and huddled in a corner. The Insta-Fire claims to burn in winds up to 30 mph, but the trick is first lighting the darn thing.

Having no success outside I wanted to give them the best shot possible and took them into the garage. This time I took a book of matches and figured if I couldn’t light them by the time the match burned out then I wasn’t interested in it. The Firestart took a light but burned such a small flame that didn’t spread to the rest of the piece. The Insta-Fire caught flame and burned decently for a few seconds before self extinguishing itself again and leaving many unburnt pieces behind.

Okay… So far this is very disappointing. Lets try Insta-Fires’s bold claim of being able to float and light on water. This time I wasn’t messing around and poured in 1/4 of the bag into a cup of water. And the Dippin’ Dots fire starter did float! It also lit into a good sized flame. I lit the Firestart and placed that in the water to see if it would float and it just instantly sunk and went out.

Overall I would give the Firestart a 0/10 for survival and prepping purposes. As a fire log in a fireplace it might have some potential, but I will not trust this to start an emergency fire. It just doesn’t hold a flame well enough or burn hot and large enough to do much good.

The Insta-Fire gets a 2/10. One point for being cool and burning on water, and one point for at least lighting into a semi-usable flame if you put 1/4 of the package together. But again, not trusting this for an emergency situation. It’s problem is that you do need to use a large cup of it to actually do anything with and all the pieces don’t burn before it extinguishes itself. One of it’s main claims is to be nonvolatile and not flare up, but I want it to! I want it to catch fire easily, spread to all the pieces and burn completely. 

I’ll just stick to my cotton balls and vaseline for now. They catch easily, burn very long, produce a large and hot flame, and are DIRT cheap! 

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Earthquake specific food store question

Hi there,

Brit in WA state. Aware of this earthquake situation, and although I am trying to cover all emergency my bases, earthquake seems like a good one to be ready for.

I have a couple of questions about food storage that I would really appreciate people who have more experience than I do to chime in on.

I would like to keep my longer term food stores in the garage (concrete slab), but we have an apartment above it so the whole thing really could come down. Thing is, everytime I put anything even slightly edible in a sealed plastic bucket in the garage mice start chewing thier way through.

1. Is it just a ‘find a rodent impenetrable chest’ that is about the right size’ situation? In which case any recommendations?

2. Where do I keep it in the garage obviously near a door / window, and the furthest up any slopes, but what is the best way to not get stuff buried in an earth quake.

Forgive me if this question has already been asked, I did my best to search around in old comments for something similar, I’m sure I just missed it, so any links to old conversations I’d also be grateful for.

Thank you kindly,


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Booze recommendations for barter during SHTF

Happy new year all!
Every once and awhile, I like to add on to our little larder, so I’m looking for recommendations for sales/value/brands of alcohol that you might like to trade when SHTF? I used to drink tequila and scotch, but know next to nothing about other types of alcohol.

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What’s in my everyday backpack?

Although I only got actively interested in preparedness quite recently, I’ve long been in the habit of carrying a well-stocked everyday backpack, though the contents have been assembled haphazardly, never with any particular comprehensive review. This started when I was at university and carried a backpack like most university students, and I just never quit carrying a backpack. Well over a decade ago, when I was in grad school, I recall telling a friend how I keep all sorts of stuff in my backpack because I never know when I’ll need it, and my friend lightly teased that “so basically you carry your junk drawer everywhere you go”.

I just got myself a new backpack and am about to transfer the contents over, and I figure it might be interesting to do an inventory of what’s in my backpack (and I’m sure I’ll make a few adjustments to the contents as I do this, as well). The new backpack is an Eddie Bauer 29L cargo pack – the same as my old backpack, except I got my old backpack second-hand and a previous owner had cut off the waist strap and sternum strap, and I was getting annoyed by the lack.

Asterisks mark items that I’m not transferring over to the new backpack.


A knit wool hat A cotton sun hat A flimsy disposable poncho (I’d have preferred a sturdier plastic poncho more designed for reuse, but I saw this one in the shop cheap and I figured it would tide me over until I come across a better one) A clean handkerchief A reflective emergency blanket A “raincoat for my backpack” – a garbage bag with slits cut in it to let the shoulders straps through A pair of socks (likely dirty, got separated from my laundry, oops)* There’s usually some combination of sweater / down vest / windbreaker in there as well, but they migrate in and out depending on weather, laundry, usage around the house, etc., and happen to all be out at the moment. There are also usually some gloves or mittens at least during the winter but they also happen to be out at the moment.


An insulated water bottle/thermos 5 bags of green tea (genmaicha) and two small packets of salt contained in a zip bag 3 sugar packets; I’m moving those to the zip bag with the green tea and salt 5+ bags of a black tea that I find works well made in a single cup Some beef jerky Some expired coupons for my favourite fast-food restaurant* 5-ish bags of one of my standard black teas* (I find this tea works well made in a teapot but not made in a cup, so it’s less suitable for backpack stock)


2 Can99 respirators (FFP3 NR certification) – when this gets down to 1, I add another 5 from my home stash. Some surgical-style non-certified masks (these are mostly for giving away) A pack of wet wipes A bottle of hand sanitizer The end of a roll of toilet paper. (Two instances. Reducing to one.) 13 bandaids A dozen or so cotton balls A small container of petroleum jelly Some sanitary napkins A medieval-style bone comb Some extra strength Advil/ibuprofen Some Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride antihistamine tablets [generic Benadryl equivalent] An up-to-date EpiPen An expired EpiPen* Some expired Cetirizine Hydrochloride antihistamine tablets*


A portable power bank


A Rite in the Rain notebook A mechanical pencil A pamphlet-sized prayer book Another pamphlet-sized prayer book* (so well tucked away I didn’t even know it was there…) A small leatherbound notebook with handmade paper; two pins through a page near the back* (Notebook superseded by the Rite in the Rain notebook which I acquired more recently. Pins are not essential enough to keep in there.) A book that I’m reading with a friend* (This goes in and out because it only needs to be in the bag one day a week) Miscellaneous papers acquired in daily life and not yet filed* 


9 grocery bags (this is way too many, they tend to accumulate; reducing to 3) A clean small zip-seal bag inside a larger zip-seal bag (I’m replenishing this depleted supply by adding 3 more clean small zip-seal bags and 1 clean large one) A BIC lighter A travel-sized diptych icon

One key item I’m adding to my new backpack right now: a LifeStraw that I recently acquired.

Things I carry in my pockets instead of my backpack: keys, credit card, transit card, health card, Swiss Army Knife, wallet, phone.

I also plan to add to my backpack:

A bit of cash, probably about $60-80 – enough to be useful, little enough that I won’t be too upset if it’s lost or stolen The right charging cord for my phone, and a wall converter (I got a new phone recently, and so far only have one charging cord for it; the cord with my power bank fits my old phone and I haven’t yet updated it)

What do people think would be particularly useful to add to this? (One thing I’m not looking for is weapons.)

Is there anything here you wonder what it’s there for?

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Has anyone found a small, good wall-plug charger with all major USB ports?

Looking for:

At least one port for each of the three most common types used in portable devices: USB-A (the big boxy one), Micro-USB (was common on cell phones until recently), and USB-C (the new standard). Small enough to be appropriate for a go-bag. Durable. For example, maybe the electrical prongs can fold in to make it more compact and less likely to bend/snap.

It makes sense that if you’re in an emergency away from home you’d want the all-in-one ability to use any of the common cables and devices scattered around.

I assumed there would be lots of options, but haven’t found something obviously worthy after some quick searching. This kind of product seems ideal for a go-bag, and if we find a great one, I’ll buy and test it.

Here’s what A, Micro-B, and C look like:

Edit to add: I wasn’t aware of all the multi-headed hydra cables, like this:

So if you’ve used those kinds of cables, share that feedback too! Seems like we can solve the same problem by having a wall-charger with only USB-A and -C, combined then with a cable with a wider range of options.

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Is the food too old? / aka when to can the can

(Recently I saw a forum question, “How to tell when to toss cans that have rust on the outside?” And it got me to thinking more about what was inside the can.)

As preppers we store food. We rotate and use our items regularly. (First in First Out ) But sometimes we don’t, it gets old and unused for whatever reason.

What is too old? First, you have to at least open it up (don’t just throw it away based on what the outside looks like). Assess what’s inside. Do you own little prepper experiment.

IF you HAD to eat it to survive, could you? Modern day food processing is pretty amazing. Look at the color and consistency. Smell it. If it looks okay and smells okay, taste a little (it won’t kill you). Again, could you eat it if you had to?

Here are the timeframes we’ve (very unofficially) determined that we’re generally comfortable with:

– Cans (that require a can opener): 6 years

– Cans with pull rings: 2 years (these are not sealed as well and mold frequently develops in them prematurely)

– Cheese: I’ve left a sealed package out in the garage as an experiment for 10 months, the package swelled, and some oils pooled, but it tasted fine — just much sharper. In the refrigerator: 2+ years

– Sour cream (16oz) / cream cheese (12oz) (refrigerated): 6 months. We buy small containers — once opened use them within about a week.

– Half and Half (64oz) (refrigerated): 3+ months

– Greek Yogurt (32oz) (refrigerated): 6+ months

– Cottage Cheese (16oz): <6 weeks (and it’ll be obviously moldy if it’s bad)

– Beer: room temperature/dark: 3 – 9 months, refrigerated: up to 2 years. It’s important to remember old beer doesn’t become dangerous to drink, it just gets old and can taste skunky or sour — but it’s harmless to the body. Essentially if it tastes fine, drink it.

– Saltines: I recently came across a sealed packages from ‘13, they tasted sour/salty almost like baking soda — but the sheep and chickens loved them.

– Frozen Meat: At the bottom of the (big) deep freezer we came across some butchered pork from ‘17, 5 years old. I was skeptical and gave some to the dogs, but it didn’t look bad. It was wrapped in plastic, then in butcher paper and the meat still looked good and wasn’t freezer burned. Experimentally we cooked some up in the crock pot, letting the pork shoulder cook on low overnight — and it was great. Great flavor and great consistency, we’ll (carefully, inspecting as we go) use the rest of it. (Edit added 2/13)

What to do with TOO OLD? I make pigcycles.  I pour the contents of all the old cans into large bowls, stir them together into a slop, spoon them into quart ziplock bags, then freeze them. Then I’ll give them to our pig, or chickens, or occasionally our dogs on a hot day as a treat. 

[Disclaimer: This is only my opinion and advice, old food should only be eaten in a survival situation.] Read More

Summary Report: Our power went out

Last night our power went out for four hours. Everything was fine. I sat by the fire and read a garden seed catalog by candle light. This is dangerous: now I want to buy everything! Everything looks good in the catalog!

This was a good opportunity to review what worked and what needs fixing. Sharing here in case it is useful. I find it good practice to write up a review for myself. Suggestions are welcome.



Power outage started around 7pm Power back on around 11pm (4 hours)

What went well:

Having a keychain flashlight. I carry three mini flashlights on my keychain, which I have on me at all times. As soon as the power went off it was pitch-black dark, and of course – one of the flashlights was out of battery. Thankfully I have two spare. I was able to calmly and easily find my way around the house, to gather the family and go get the LED candles. LED candle lights. These are just the cheap pick from ikea – they glow like a candle and take two AAA batteries. They give off a nice soft glow. We had enough we could hand one to each person, and leave one on a table or at the top of the stairwell if needed. Once everyone has their own light, everything is calm. Natural gas fireplace. With no power, the main furnace won’t run. That’s why we have this. I keep the pilot lit all winter for exactly this reason. It costs me a few dollars per month to keep it lit, but you’re sure glad for it when you really need it. We flipped the switch and got heat and light. Left the fire on during the whole outage. Everyone stayed calm. The fireplace is on, so we just gathered nearby and relaxed. Have a nap. Read a book. Whatever suits you. Group text chat with our neighbours. We use Signal, because its the only app I trust for security. We are lucky to have two great sets of neighbours, with similar mindset (and they are much more skilled than I am at e.g. shooting, gardening, and other skills. I learn a lot from them). We’ve spent a long time building a relationship for our group. The app was useful – we could gather and share info. It helped to stay informed. Data connection. We were able to text lots of other neighbours and check on them, to see if everyone was okay. Luckily: yes. We do have a backup emergency phone on a different network, with a ‘pay-as-you-go’ card. Didn’t need to use it. Pantry food. We were able to easily open crackers, canned peaches, etc. And eat dinner without cooking. I enjoy intermittent fasting, and considered making it a ‘challenge’ for myself to get through the situation without eating. But I figured if I had to go help someone, or the situation got worse, it would be better to have energy. So I ate. Curtains and blinds. As soon as everyone was safe and cozy by the fire, I went around the house and closed everything to keep the heat in. DIY home repair. I have spent many months fixing leaks to try and make our home more passive and efficient. Installing vapor barrier. Taping and sealing. Installing gaskets and covers on electrical sockets. Weather stripping. etc. I have no direct measurements but I like to hope this helped. Friendly backup location. If worst comes to worst, we have a family member within driving distance that is in our covid cohort. We could load up the go bag and go there instead. Didn’t need to. But glad to have the option. Got to have a conversation about being prepared. After the power came on one of our neighbours texted us, discussing how we were doing. Their fireplace does not work, and has been broken for a long while. Discussing our steps and situation with them got them thinking, making comments like “huh, that’s a good idea. Maybe I should look into fixing our fireplace for next time…”. Great! That’s the kind of self-assessment and improvement I love to see.

What could improve:

Fix my power outage alerts to be text messages, not email. I had alerts configured with the power company to notify me if the power went out. It was pretty obvious it went out. But setting them to email was dumb – I couldn’t access my email over the data connection; it was too hammered and slow. So I didn’t get any updates. Luckily our neighbour in the group chat was smarter than me, and had his set to text. So we could still get updates on the ETA to restore power. Wind-up hand crank flashlights. These did not work. I always thought these would be useful because they don’t require batteries. But the lights don’t give off much light. Also if you had young kids – the cranks take a certain amount of manual dexterity to wind them correctly. I won’t use these again. Much better to have simple LED candles. Stored water containers: empty out some of the water. I have several 7 gallon jugs. If it was seriously cold, they might freeze, expand, and burst. I should drain some water to store them 90% full, or down to 6 gallons per container. Keep doing house improvements. Long term, I want to add more attic insulation. Short-term, we have one very leaky window that needs to be fixed or replaced. My next summer projects may include installing a better exhaust vent for our bathroom fan that doesn’t let in cold air; and putting spray foam behind (but not inside) electrical boxes.

Where we got lucky:

It was warm! Two weeks ago was -35C (-31F). Last night was -5C (23F) instead. Big difference. Much easier to deal with. We were very lucky this outage happened after it warmed up. The whole family was safe at home when it happened, not out driving or doing anything. Data connections and text messages still worked. If they hadn’t I would have gone by foot to check on one of our closest neighbours, who is elderly.

Overall, pretty happy.
Now I need to budget for garden seeds.

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A quick workout to warm you up

Just a quick tip that I wanted to share:

I had a smoothie for breakfast today and they always make me so cold afterwards. A quick workout is the perfect solution to warm me up. 

After stretching, do some squats, jumping jacks, push ups, or lift weights. In less than three minutes I was toasty warm and feeling strong and loose for the day. 

Try and target the larger muscles for maximum heat generation. Quads and biceps are good ones. To warm up hands and feet, swing your arms in the air like a windmill or kick your legs out to force warm blood to the tips of your extremities. 

We may not always have access to more clothing or a space heater, but we have an incredible heater inside of us and just need to know how to turn it on. This is a great prepping tip for when you are camping or bugging out and are away from home.

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Mini greenhouse out of scrap materials

While spending way too much time on Reddit, I came across a project that I wanted to talk about with someone. To avoid hurting the creator’s feelings, I didn’t want to comment on the actual Reddit thread itself. It’s a great project, but there are some changes I would make.

I don’t have a sunny windowsill, so I made a mini greenhouse to start my seeds

The creator of this project used standard pane glass and scrap wood from a previous project. Cost them $10 to build.

People in the comments said that the creator needs to provide some ventilation so that the plants do not cook and the creator responds that they did put some small holes in and filled the holes with cotton so bugs don’t get in. This probably won’t provide enough ventilation.

Changes I would make:

Place a hinge on one side so you could prop it open or easily gain access without having to remove the entire lid. Drill holes in the sides for ventilation and staple squares of screen window over the holes to prevent bugs. Add a thermometer inside to monitor temperatures. If things get too toasty I would prop open the lid or turn away from the sun. If things were not warm enough, painting the box black would absorb more warmth. Create 3″ feet in each corner to get the box up off the floor to prevent it from sitting in water and rotting.

Has anyone made a mini greenhouse like this before? What changes would you make to this design?

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It is critical you prune your muscadines

I’m a firm believer that if you live in the south and are a prepper, then you should grow muscadines… preferably commercial varieties.  Around here they grow wild almost everywhere.  Unlike many food crops, muscadines really require little care.  Diseases and insects don’t bother them and they can handle dry spells.  Muscadines love the heat & humidity of the south.  A mature vine can get 30 -40 feet long but I keep mine around 15 feet long.  A mature commercial plant can produce around 60 pounds of grapes each year and they are soooooo good!

I have most of my vines inside my orchard and they are on a trellis system, but that is not necessary.  They easily will grow up & along any fence line.  And boy do they every grow.  Muscadines mostly only fruit on new growth, so if you want a large crop, you need to prune back the vines each year and thin them out.  I cut off all but a few inches, so that I have a few buds on each shoot.  From that, each bud will put out several feet of new vine.  The fruit forms on these new vines.  That is why it is critical to prune your vines when they are dormant in the winter.

I just took these pics today.  I pruned one row and called it a day.

In the spring, they will leaf out, grow new vines & set new fruit.

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muscadine 5

Little work light that pulls very few watts

Each time I have to actually use my preps, in a real world situation, I find things that need to be done differently than I originally thought & I find things I need to add to my preps.  In the past several weeks, I’ve had to deal with two separate, multi day power outages at my mother in law’s.  After the first event I added a Mr. Heater 30,000 BTU LP gas heater and it worked incredibly well at the second event last week.

I noticed, even with my two solar generators & several rechargeable Goal Zero lanterns, that I could use some extra lighting that would be flexible, bright & pull very little watts.  During these events, I would use the solar generators to power lights & devices when the generator wasn’t running, such as overnight or when refueling.  I found the lighting around my mother in law’s house would really drain the solar generators.  Nothing they couldn’t handle but it gave me some concerns.

So after the first event I ordered these little mini LED work lights from Amazon for $13 each with free Prime delivery.  They didn’t come in before the second event, but they did come in today.  They are very highly rated on Amazon, and I can see why.  They are small, lightweight & the legs can be manipulated to point it anywhere, or you could hang it by the handle.  They are very bright at 1000 lumens yet only pull 11 watts.  That means 9 of these would pull the same power as one 100 watt incandescent bulb.

I think these could be very helpful for folks planning on running some devices off of battery units, such as solar generators or the like.  These last outages during freezing weather brought home some points to me.  You can always use more lighting and being cold for long periods ain’t fun.  I have adapted my preps accordingly.

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worklight 1

Chickens for preppers: Important considerations

I wanted to put out a guide for preppers who are interested in keeping chickens or other poultry for long term food security reasons. This is a discussion of important concepts for improving self sufficiency in flock management, not a guide for basic animal care. Please add your thoughts/comments/additions!

1. Select the right breeds and flock mix
For preppers, I recommend going with a mixed flock of hardy, dual purpose breeds that are bred for egg production levels of about 200+ eggs/yr. These birds are big enough to make a good soup/stew bird when their laying days wind down and produce higher amounts of larger eggs than fancy and bantam breeds. You want a bird that can forage well, and safely manage all season conditions without heaters or other special care requirements. Popular breeds in the dual purpose category include barred rocks, Rhode Island reds, New Hampshires, orpingtons and australorps, among others. Hybrid production/efficiency birds like ISA browns/red stars can be added to amp up egg production. I also recommend keeping a couple hens of dual purpose breeds that tend to go broody, like brahmas, in the event you want/need to produce chicks without the aid of electric incubators and brooders.

2. Size your flock for your anticipated long term needs
Egg production varies by breed, age of hen, the animal’s health, and environmental/seasonal conditions. Birds under 2 produce more eggs than older hens past their prime, and the dark days of winter can dramatically reduce egg production on a cyclical basis. Even very high temperatures in summer can throw a bird’s laying schedule out of whack. This means that a very small flock of only 3-4 birds is unlikely to produce enough eggs for a family over time, even if they produce enough when they are at their peak. So if you want 3-4 eggs a day from your birds, you will probably need about 6 hens to consistently achieve that.

3. Buy vaccinated chicks from reputable hatcheries/breeders
Many backyard keepers buy, sell, and trade the chicks they produce at costs that are much lower than big hatcheries. The trouble is that most small keepers and breeders dont manage their lineages for health and performance (they just breed whatever rooster they have to whatever hens they have) and more importantly, they ususally don’t vaccinate their chicks for Mareks ( Every year, I see backyard keepers on chicken forums looking for help with sick and dying birds infected with Mareks. Many times they lose multiple birds, and the surviving birds become permanent carriers (which means they will infect any unvaxxed new birds the keepers try to get to replace the dead ones). In my opinion, for preppers, it is especially important to maintain a vaxxed flock if at all possible because you don’t want to be losing your birds in a time of food/chick shortages. A 100% vaxxed flock also means that if you want or need to breed your own birds without access to the vaccine, those new birds will be safe. You also don’t want to be contributing to the spread of Mareks in backyard flocks in your region if you sell your birds to others, as that can destabilize the local food supply when you need it most.

4. Use a multi-flock/purpose 20% protein feed in anticipation of changing flock needs
There are a number of different bird feeds out there – chick, grower/raiser, maintenance, layer, etc – and it can be hard to know which one is best. I recommend going with a 20% protein all-flock grower/raiser as your standard feed for your birds once they are off chick crumble for two reasons. First, a 20% feed can be used at all stages of life and for a wide variety of birds – meat, layer, males and females, winter, birds in molt, birds without access to forage, turkeys, ducks, etc. Conversely, layer-specific or general adult maintenance pellets don’t have enough protein for the rapid growth required of young and meat birds, have too much calcium for male birds, and often don’t have enough niacin for waterfowl. This means that if you have your hens on layer pellets and then you get a rooster, now you need to switch feeds. Or if you get ducks, or turkeys, or broilers. You get the idea. Second, as preppers, you should be storing extra feed. If you don’t know how your flock might change over time, you want to make sure whatever feed you have stockpiled will work for everyone in the future, or else you could end up with hundreds of pounds of food that is poorly suited to your animals.

5. Plan on rotating in new layers to keep production consistent
Due to the natural decline in egg production over a hen’s lifetime, your flock’s production will dramatically decrease after a few years if you don’t keep resupplying it with younger hens. Many keepers follow the 1/3 rule: replace/add 1/3 of your flock size every two years to keep egg production high. So if you have 6 hens in 2020, that means you should plan to add 2 new birds by 2022. Older hens do continue to lay, just at a reduced rate, so if you don’t plan on culling older birds to make way for the new additions, be sure to make your coop big enough for a larger flock than you start with.

6. Have a multi-faceted backup feeding plan in the event of feed shortages
The obvious first line of defense for feed shortages is storing enough feed for your animals to get them through at least a couple of months without needing to resupply. Long term situations though, like a complete collapse in the supply chain, will require mutliple other backup food sources in case you can’t resupply when you run low. Fostering a healthy pasture environment for your animals to range is one important strategy. This means preferably offering your animals something more than the typical lawn, and adopting grass/property management strategies that maximize seed production and insect populations (basically the exact opposite of what most suburban lawn care seeks to do). But even with a good pasture available, poultry need supplemental feeds. You can make your own scratch feed by grinding/crushing a mix of dry corn and grains from your own food stores, and you can crush/powder cooked animal bones, eggshells, and crustacean shells for calcium supplementation. Kitchen scraps can help round out the diet. A mix of pasture, kitchen scraps, homemade scratch feed, and carefully rationed amounts of dwindling commercial feed is hardly ideal, but it should hopefully allow you to keep your birds alive longer in a true crisis scenario than if you don’t take advantage of all these methods.

7. Have a backup bird resupply plan in the event of chick shortages/shipping issues
When the pandemic hit, there was a run on chicks and hatcheries were overrun with a surge of orders ( But eggs hatch on their own time frame regardless of how many humans want birds and why. So the orders got backed up, important production breeds sold out, and many people had to wait far longer than usual to get the animals they did manage to order. Issues struck again just recently when problems with the USPS resulted in serious shipping delays, causing thousands of chicks to die enroute to their destinations ( USPS is the only shipper of live birds in the US. If they can’t get the chicks to farmers and keepers, then only people/businesses local to the hatcheries can get birds from them (and there aren’t many hatcheries). These problems highlight the importance of having a backup plan to restock your birds as needed. Keeping a rooster in a laying flock can be a major PITA but it has the major advantage of allowing you to make your own chickens without relying on the agricultural supply chain. If you live in an area where you can’t have a rooster, or if you really don’t want to deal with their general ridiculousness, you can still plan on hatching your own eggs by connecting with other local keepers who are willing to sell/trade fertilized hatching eggs or chicks to you (the pro of hatching eggs vs chicks is that they are cheaper and you don’t have to worry about disease introduction, the con is that hatch rates can be dodgy).

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300 Blackout SBR (short barrel rifle)

It is Christmas Eve, the sun is out & the temp is 70 degrees. I’m home alone, as my wife stays with her 100 year old mom several days a week. So what to do? How about head down to my home range & do some shootn’! Today I’m shooting my favorite rifle… my 300 Blackout.

So to begin with, it is a SBR… short barrel rifle. The barrel is 11.5 inches long, as opposed to a standard 16″ carbine barrel. To have such a barrel, I had to apply to the government, the ATF, to get checked out & approved. The approval form is called a stamp & it costs $200 to apply for one. I like to shoot SBRs because I also shoot with a suppressor. The added length & weight of a suppressor to a carbine length barrel is just excessive for me. The gun just isn’t balanced. But put a suppressor on a SBR & it just feels & looks natural to me. Oh, by the way, you have to get a stamp for each suppressor too.

300 Blackout ammo is relatively new.  What I like about it is that it shoots a much larger & heavier bullet than a standard 5.56 AR.  This gives it really good knock down power.  This ammo also burns all its powder completely when shot thru a short barrel.  And best of all, when using subsonic ammo with a suppressor, the gun is rather quiet.  Not silent by any stretch… but quiet enough you don’t need hearing protection.  The down side is that this ammo is not well suited for long range shooting.  At my age, I won’t shoot anything past 100 yards, so that is a non factor for me.  I mostly shoot subsonic ammo as it is much quieter than high velocity ammo.  With high velocity ammo, you get a very loud crack as the bullet passes thru the sound barrier.  By using ammo that stays below the speed of sound, you don’t get that loud crack… plus the ammo itself is a bit quieter.

This rifle, as with any AR styled rifle, is exceptionally easy to shoot.  There is almost no kick, it is very quiet with the suppressor attached, and it is simple to aim.  I use an Aimpoint Pro red dot sight with backup iron sights that fold down when not in use.  The Aimpoint will run for around 3 years on a single battery, but if the optic were to fail in a crisis, the backup sights pop up & you can see them thru the nonfunctional Aimpoint.  This is called a co witness.  In the pics below, note the backup sights down and then up.

For this rifle, I use a Saker 7.62 suppressor with quick detatch.

Since 300 Blackout ammo & 5.56 ammo is so similar, I use solid black magazines for my 5.56 and use the translucent (see thru) magazines for 300 Blackout.  And with the 300 Blackout, I use 20 round magazines for the subsonic ammo & use 30 round magazines for high velocity ammo.

The upper is an AAC SBR 300 Blackout upper.  I use a Stag lower.  And below, is pictured my home range located in my bottom pasture.

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300 5

Grid down home/bug-out hygiene kit

What do y’all store to prepare for hygiene without running water and electricity? I put together a list that seems like it would cover the basics.

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7 things to prepare before it’s too late

I’ve been thinking about TEOTWAWKI or The End of the World as We Know It. To be clear, I believe that there are many other more likely scenarios to happen before this, but if you plan for the worst you will be prepared for the rest. 

As part of my family’s plan I wanted to make a list of the things we need to get in order before it’s too late. They are in no particular order and is just a very short list of things we need to do. I am planning on expanding my description of and notes for each point once I finalize the list. What do all you preparedness experts think of this list and what would you add or change?

1) Have ways to collect, treat, and store water

Water is life, we all need a lot of it not only for drinking but cleaning, cooking, and hygiene. Not having it will quickly lead to disease, dehydration, and death. Not only is storing clean water important, but have ways to collect and clean more.

2) Store food and ways to cook it

Start with a week of food, then a month, then three, then six if possible. Have ways to cook and prepare multiple recipes with the food we store and don’t just do beans and rice every day. 

3) Learn basic first aid and have a supply of medical supplies

Be able to treat wounds, sprains, cuts, and breaks. Store medications and don’t forget about dental and eye health. Store more than we think we will need.

4) Have backup sources of energy

Have alternative ways to stay warm, cool down, modes of transportation, and power the various devices and appliances in our home.

5) Fortify our homes and self

Secure our home against nature, humans, and animals. Learn personal self defense and carry some defense tool with us at all times if possible. No use preparing if we get our stuff stolen or die.

6) Create a reference library and practice various skills

The internet may not always be available, have some paper reference material and practice skills so we aren’t trying new things during the disaster.

7) Work with other preppers

We want to create a network of other like minded individuals and have goods and skills ready that can be used for trade and bartering.

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Electrical surge protection for older homes

I just bought several surge protectors for outlets used for electronic devices in my home (computer, radio power supply, printer, modem, router, TV). Now I wonder if those surge protectors will do more harm than good since my older home uses a two-wire system (hot wire and neutral, no third wire for ground, as I understand it). 

Can anyone here speak to that issue? Does anyone have experience with Zero Surge protectors? Apparently they use a different approach to handling surges. Instead of directing surges to ground or neutral wires (again, my house doesn’t have ground wire at outlets), they handle it differently.


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Let’s talk Texas – how to prep your home for extreme cold

My heart goes out to the millions of Texans who lost power during extremely cold temperatures yesterday.

What lessons can we draw from this experience so that we can improve our future response to crises like these? I’ll speak to my area of knowledge, which is buildings. However, I have very little knowledge of regional construction practices specific to Texas, so please correct any errors or provide info as you see fit. I’d love to hear lessons from experts on community response, particularly with reference to protection of vulnerable populations. This might be disjointed.

Know the location of your main water shut-off(s). Ensure that you can operate it and that it doesn’t leak.  In the event of pipes freezing or bursting, immediately shut-off the main water supply and drain all pipes via the lowest elevation fixture(s). Then return to the burst location and start collecting water. Most burst pipes are on the water supply system so the water won’t stop until you make it stop. My guess is that only a very small number of Texas homes have hydronic heat. However, if you have hydronic heat it will be very useful to ascertain whether the burst pipe is part of the heating system. If hydronic, kill power to the boiler and drain the system via drain valves on the boiler.  In rare cases the waste piping system may rupture in freezing temperatures. This seems most common to areas prone to flooding where elevated houses are the norm and traps are suspended low or below the floor system and tend to freeze. This is the lottery win of frozen piping. Simply stop using this section of the waste system until you’re able to make repairs.  All combustion-based boilers and furnaces will fail during a power outage due to electrical inputs for combustion and distribution. Boilers generally have considerably lower electrical input than furnaces, but neither will work without back-up power when the grid goes down. Portable generator systems that back-up modern furnaces and boilers are hit-and-miss due to potential sine wave problems. Inverter generators address this, but are considerably more expensive. I don’t have a good estimate for the fraction of heating/cooling that won’t work with a standard generator, but would guess that 1/4 of stuff installed in the past decade, especially premium equipment. I would expect almost all ductless minisplit heat pumps to fail. Many combustion water heaters work without electrical power as do most gas ranges/cooktops. Ranges have to be lit manually. These devices can be used to transfer heat to the building. Make certain you have battery back-up CO monitors before you mess with this. Boil water, fill bathtubs and allow the water to approach room temperature. My guess is that the combination of these two has the capacity to put 10-40 kbtu/hr into a home, which will often be sufficient to take homes out of the danger zone.  Power-vented gas water heaters need electricity, but have very low power requirements. I’ve had customers place their power-vented water heaters on an uninterrupted power supply with good results. (This is technically a building code violation, so it’s not something I would provide as a service).  Water, heating, and cooling systems belong on the inside of the building enclosure. They don’t belong in unconditioned attics, vented crawlspaces, or exterior walls. This is a nearly sacrosanct tenet of resilient, energy-efficient housing. In homes that are placed on slabs it can be very tempting to place these things in attics. Doing so should be accompanied by a plan to condition the attic, or at least around the component in question. 

*Edited CO2 to CO.

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Ice Storm in Memphis

Well, I’m back in Memphis at my 100 year old mother in law’s house. I’d say half of Memphis is without power and half the traffic lights not working. The drive inside Memphis was rather scary. They say over 100,000 houses are without power   Thankfully our farm in north Mississippi has power.

So after work, I loaded up my truck with the dual fuel generator, lots of extension cords, 25 gallons of gasoline and 5 of my 40 pound LP gas tanks. Also brought two of my Humless solar generators and my LP gas ventless heater. I don’t trust ventless heaters, so I placed it in front of the fireplace. She has natural gas logs but they won’t keep the room warm. This LP gas heater keeps the room toasty warm and only runs about 10% of the time. 

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BOB Bifocals for old eyes

I’ve always kept a pair of cheap “cheaters” in my BOB, vehicle and everywhere else I think I might need them.  I’ve recently begun swapping them out for safety glass with bifocal lenses.  They are apx $15 at most local home improvement stores and come in different strengths.  Last thing I want is an eye injury when I need my eyes most.

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A nice figure about the stages of infection

Found in this document:

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The International Wound Infection Institute’s Wound Infection Continuum and associated signs and symptoms of wound infection stages

Bloomberg and other media reporting China massively stockpiling food essential, War fears muted

ByAdam Minter5 January 2022, 01:00 GMT

In recent months, food prices have hit 10-year highs, causing concern worldwide. Supply-chain bottlenecks, labor shortages, bad weather and a surge in consumer demand are among the factors responsible for the spike. So, too, is a lesser-known phenomenon: China is hoarding key commodities.

By mid-2022, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, China will hold 69% of the world’s corn reserves, 60% of its rice and 51% of its wheat. By China’s own estimation, these reserves are at a “historically high level” and are contributing to higher global food prices. For China, such stockpiles are necessary to ensure it won’t be at the mercy of major food exporters such as the U.S. But other countries, especially in the developing world, might ask why less than 20% of the world’s population is hoarding so much of its food.

China has operated granaries for thousands of years. In imperial times, they served as a source of tax revenue and a means of managing bad harvests, natural disasters, and war. Their importance grew as China’s population soared, yet the state’s ability to manage them faltered. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, natural and political disasters brought hunger and starvation to millions. Outsiders referred to China as “the land of famine.” Political instability and revolution soon followed.

Mao Zedong and China’s Communist Party staked much of their credibility on “solving” hunger, but midcentury famines took the lives of tens of millions. President Xi Jinping, never one to criticize his own country, once remarked that many members of his generation still recall hunger. Those memories have informed Xi’s policies since the start of his regime. In 2013, just weeks after taking office, Xi endorsed a nationwide campaign to discourage people from wasting food. In 2020, the “clean-plate campaign” was resurrected as he called on Chinese to “maintain a sense of crisis about food security.”

That crisis isn’t just about having enough to eat. It’s about having enough food produced domestically to minimize reliance on anyone else. Two weeks ago, Xi told a high-level Communist Party meeting that “the food of the Chinese people must be made by and remain in the hands of the Chinese people.”

That won’t be easy. China’s inventory of arable land has been in decline for decades, nibbled away by urban development and soil contamination, and its farms are far less productive than counterparts in other countries. Efforts to boost productivity with policy incentives and technology investments are promising but unlikely to pan out for years.

So China is stockpiling. At home, the government is offering farmers a minimum price for their crops (which are then often stockpiled). In March, it raised the minimum price for wheat for the first time since 2014. Meanwhile, traders have taken advantage of a  strengthening yuan to snap up grains at a feverish pace. China’s wheat imports surged 50% between January and July, compared to the same period of 2020.

The size and content of China’s commodity stockpiles is a jealously guarded state secret. But officials have been unusually open about the matter lately. In November, after a vaguely worded government missive about potential shortfalls this winter caused nationwide panic, agricultural officials announced that China had enough wheat stockpiled to last 18 months.

Other countries have been building up food reserves too, of course, especially as Covid-related disruptions persist. In June, the UN’s food agency warned that some low-income countries were likely to see food import costs jump as much as 20% for the year. Though the report didn’t single out any country for responsibility, China — as the world’s largest agricultural importer — certainly plays a crucial role.

Right or wrong, China has no intention of unwinding its stockpiles for the benefit of others. Nonetheless, there are steps it could take to help mitigate inflation. Most important, it should begin unwinding crop supports that raise domestic food prices beyond global ones. Meanwhile, a more open acknowledgement of China’s inevitable role in driving food inflation might encourage its leaders to work with others on food assistance to low-income regions.

China’s evolution from famine to feast delivered hundreds of millions of people from hunger. As its economy and clout grows, it should seek to ensure that others can enjoy the bounty.

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