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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Product of the Day

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook

--the information contained in The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook is all quite sound. Authors Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht consulted numerous experts in their fields (they're cited at the end of the book) to discover how to survive various and sundry awful events. Parachute doesn't open? Your best bet for survival is to hook your arms through the straps of a fellow jumper's chute--and even then you're likely to dislocate both shoulders and break both legs. Car sinking in water? Open the window immediately to equalize pressure, then open the car door and swim to the surface. Buried in an avalanche? Spit on the snow--it will tell you which direction is really up. Then dig as fast as you can.

Each survival skill is explained in simple steps with helpful illustrations. Most stress the need to be prepared--both mentally and physically. For example, to escape from quicksand, you will need to lay a pole on the surface of the quicksand, flop on your back atop the pole, and pull your legs out one by one. No pole? No luck. "When walking in quicksand country, carry a stout pole--it will help you get out should you need to."

Hopefully you'll never need to know how to build a fire without matches, perform a tracheotomy, or treat a bullet wound. But in the words of survival evasion resistance escape instructor "Mountain" Mel Deweese, "You never know." --Sunny Delaney

Repeating Box Trap

When I lived in town I had the damnedest time with raccoons getting into the trash. Every morning I would wake to ripped trash bags and garbage strewn about. They would push over the cans to get to the goodies inside. I tried everything I could think of. I poured bleach into the bags, mothballs; I even sprayed the contents with coyote urine with hopes of discouraging the little bandits. Nothing worked.

I could have made an awesome coonskin cap from the hide, but nosy neighbors, game wardens and not wanting to go to jail again for poaching kept me from pulling the trigger. My best option was to catch and relocate the critters far enough away that they would not find their way back to my trashcans.

I am sure most of you have seen or heard of the live traps sold by Havahart. These work great but are expensive running upwards of $30 for the smallest models intended for squirrel or similar animals. Sizes for raccoon run $97 dollars or more depending on the retailer. I didn’t want to spend that kind of money for a trap, especially when I can make one for little or nothing.

Box traps can be constructed using any solid wood. Start by building a long rectangular box from two feet to for feet long, with an opening of at least six inches squire. This size works well for squirrels, rabbits, muskrats and mink. For medium sized pray such as coons, possums, cats, skunks, groundhogs and foxes construct an eight inch opening. Beaver, coyotes and badgers need a twelve inch opening and a trap that is three to four feet long.

Some trappers construct these traps with a door at each end of the box. They can also be built with only one door, the other end covered with heavy gauge wire or grating to block the animals’ escape, while at the same time giving it the illusion of being able to move straight through the box from one end and out the other.

Most traps of this type can only catch one critter with each setting; these work well but limit the trapper. The repeating box trap can continue catching game until the box can not hold anymore or the forest has been empted.

The repeating box trap is simply a box with one way doors or door depending on construction. Doors can be made from aluminum grating of the type found in old refrigerators that has been cut to size and arc welded back together for strength if necessary. The door swings up and into the trap but not out.

The animal pushes into the box past the door and once inside it can’t get back out; the door is automatically reset allowing the next critter to be trapped in the same manner as the first. Keep in mind that the four foot boxes work best for trapping more than one of any given species.

Bait depends upon the game. Muskrats are attracted to sweet corn and carrots, coons like sardines and peanut butter; squirrels seem to come into buckeyes and freshly crushed acorns, cats like sardines etc. Place the bait in a small jar with perforated lid, so the first critter caught in the box doesn’t eat the bait and spoil your chance of a subsequent catch.

My favorite bait when going after predators like fox, coyote and bobcat is a live mouse in a jar. Punch holes in the lid and put in a handful of grass and a bit of grain. Catching the live mouse seems to present the most difficult challenge.
Homemade box trap

A million thanks for the donations that keep coming in, and to those who have bought my Survival library on CD, I appreciate your support and encouragement. You are the Survivalist blog and a valuable member of the preparedness community.

Original: http://thesurvivalistblog.blogspot.com/2009/01/repeating-box-trap.html

Link of the Day

Bushcraft.se - Swedish Wilderness Survival Project

Michel Blomgren is creating an excellent series of FREE downloadable wilderness survival videos and related information.

Make a Tin-Can Cookstove

Quote of the Day

To survive it is often necessary to fight and to fight you have to dirty yourself.
~George Orwell

Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression, by H.I.C.

By God’s grace I was born and raised on a small family farm. During the 1960s and 1970s we were trying to pay off a 340 acre corn and soybean farm in northwestern Iowa and we were flat stinking broke. So we raised nearly all of the food to support our family. This required a large garden (80ft x 120 ft), an even larger truck patch (48 ft x 1,200 ft), a small fruit orchard (12 trees), livestock (caves, sheep, hogs, and 300 laying hens).

With some of the best and most productive farm land in the entire world, with better than 30 inches of precipitation, 165 frost free days, real farm tractors, planters, and cultivation equipment it took us 20 ac to feed six people. That breaks down to a 1/2 acre garden, 1 acre truck [farming] patch, 8 acre pasture, and 10 acres for hay ground and animal feed.

My point for you non-farmers out there, is that you are not going to feed yourself with a Mantis tiller and 1,000 square feet of sandy dirt that requires you to pump endless ground water irrigation just to keep your crops alive. If you committed enough to surviving that you purchase over 20 firearms and 20,000 rounds of ammo (a good start) I am suggesting that you need to consider a similar commitment to growing food.

I do not discount the importance of purchasing and storing up bulk staples, dried grain, canned goods, and freeze dried entrees, I have them as well. But I am telling you straight out that if the economy tanks anything like the 1930s, and I think it will last longer, you are going to run out of grub mighty early.

Now everyone has different skills, resources, and family commitments, but let's consider some of the basic requirements for growing food:

Yearly precipitation
Up to a point, more is better. You typically need 12 inches to grow grass, 20 inches to grow trees, and 30 inches to grow corn. If you want to raise a really big garden without irrigation you need about 8 inches per month through out the primary growing season (May-June-July-Aug). Except for a few areas defined as microclimates I recommend that you consider living east of the dry line (100th meridian, i.e. Wichita, Kansas). Rainfall beyond 12 inches per month or 48 inches total will only make it harder to control the weeds and bugs. A maximum of 48 inches leaves out Louisiana, Florida, and the Coastal areas of the deep south A good source of local area climate data is City-Data.com.

Frost free growing season.
See these maps at the NOAA web site. Anything less than 120 days severely limits what you can grow. Remember that the folks scratching a living from the Dakotas, Eastern Montana, and most of the Rocky Mountain States are not multi crop farmers, they are either ranchers or specialist who grow crops like hard winter wheat. Any climate with between 165 to 240 days is about perfect. This translates into south of the Dakotas and North of Dallas, Texas. This is enough of a growing season for row crops and all vegetables and allow a little wiggle room for getting every thing planted on time. In the south you will be able to plant every thing directly in the garden, on the northern edge you will be starting many of your plants in a greenhouse. That said, starting plants in a green house gives them an important jump start on weeds and bugs. You should plan on one.

While I suggest that you should consider living in the mid-southern region of the short grass prairie, there are a number of smaller areas that provide the basic conditions for productive farming. I suggest some fine areas such and La Grande Oregon, Rathdrum, Idaho, Montrose, Colorado, where the local rainfall and warmer winters make favorable microclimates. The easiest method of evaluating an area in the arid west is to look for big commercial fruit orchards. If it grows both apples and peaches the temperature extremes will be acceptable and if you can grow fruit without pumping ground water they must get enough rain. The reason that I concentrate so heavily on living in an area with rainfall is that I anticipate that no matter what the trigger event (WMD terror strike, economic crisis, destructive natural event) we will not have enough electrical power or fuels to pump large volumes of ground water for a really long time.

Soil productivity
Black, gray, brown, and even red soil is fine as long it is loam. This means that it has organic particles (composted twigs, leaves, wood, bark, and stems) to help hold the moisture and feed the worms, bugs, and microbes that make soil really productive. Sand and gravel are fine structure but if you don’t have the worms, bugs, and microbes to aerate the soil and fix atmospheric nitrogen for the plants roots you will have to do this mechanically and ultimately you will have to add nitrogen fertilizer. [JWR Adds: It is wise to have the soil tested before making an offer on a retreat property. Soil testing is usually available at colleges and universities that have agriculture programs. You can also contact your local NRCS office or USDA Extension Office, and they can. provide information on soil testing labs in your region.

My whole family might be able to plant and cultivate 1/2 acre without equipment. But I don’t plan to find out. For my own use I bought a 25 hp diesel tractor and basic tillage, planting, and cultivating attachments. I also bought an old Ford 8N plus 4 attachments for under $2,000. A small tractor should only burn 20 gallons per year tending a small garden and truck patch. Gas and diesel may still be available during a deep depression, it may even be cheaper, but I have 500 gal of stabilized diesel in a farm tank.

Seeds, Fertilizer, Weed & Pest Control, and Livestock
Most folks have heard about Heirloom seeds. Plant varieties that will reseed themselves true year after year. But just as important, livestock will allow you continued farming success without access to petroleum based fertilizer, weed, and pest control. I use a wheel hoe in the garden and a tractor mounted cultivator in the truck patch to kill weeds, but I would rather use sheep, goats, and poultry to eat the seedling trees and weeds when I can. Livestock manure is the ultimate fertilizer and Poultry, particularly ducks, geese, and guinea hens will help control the bugs and deliver the fertilizer at the same time. Personally, I can not imagine trying to control weeds and bugs without my livestock.

Fences, Shelters, Ponds, and Trees
These are some common land improvements that are best built and planted before the crunch. [With most common soils] an agricultural pond will not efficiently seal and hold water for 2-3 years, fruit trees take 3-5 years to bear fruit heavily, and my Pecan grove will likely take 10 years if the deer and bugs will just leave it alone for a while. Building these improvements is really not difficult unless you try to do it yourself without power tools. I suggest that you build them now so you can borrow or rent tractors with PTO augers, bulldozers, backhoes, cement mixers as needed.

Academic Classes and the Extension Service
Many community colleges and land grant university extension services offer free information and classes to teach you to raise gardens, fruit, and livestock, and how to store your produce using a home canner. I took a great class titled “backyard food raising”. The skills needed to raise and store food are a lot like the skill to shoot a gun or reload ammunition. You can’t just read about it, you learn by doing.

Growing a garden is not like riding a bike. It is different for each area and the weeds and bugs are scheming right now to eat you out of house and home. I suggest that you start now and learn each new plant, animal, and pest while you can still buy food at the grocery store. While you can grow a lot the first year, my experience is that it will take 3 years practice before you are confident and fully successful
Some Useful References:
Homesteading, Gene Logsdon, 1973 Rodale Press
Basic Country Skills, Storey, 1999, Storey Publishing
Emergency Preparedness and Survival-Section 3, Jackie Clay, 2003, Backwoods Home Magazine
Organic Orcharding, Gene Logsdon, 1981, Rodale Press
Introduction to Horticulture, Shry, Reiley, 2007, Thompson Delmar Learning
Backyard Fruits and Berries, Miranda Smith, 1994 Quarto Publishing
Animal Science, Ensminger, 1991, Interstate Publishers Inc.

Original: http://www.survivalblog.com/2009/01/survival_gardening_growing_foo.html

Audio Podcast: Overlooked Items for the Bug Out Bag

icon for podpress Episode-124- Overlooked Items for the Bug Out Bag [37:12m]: Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download

Today’s show will not be an exhuasting inventory of what I keep in my bug out bag or even what you should keep in yours. Instead we will cover a few often over looked and ignored items that you may want to consider adding to your 72 hour emergency kit.

Tune in today to hear…

  • The origin of the orginal concept of a bug out bag (at least according to online forums)
  • Understanding bug out vs. battle pack or even survival kit
  • The most over looked item in a bug out bag documentation, procedure and contact documentation
  • The GPS, why many choose not to include one, why that choice is a mistake
  • The good old fashioned compass, do you have one, if not why
  • Why a written plan is a good idea, the psychology of crisis and how it effects you
  • Both maintenance and OTC meds are a good idea, don’t leave them out
  • A trick with benadryl that can help with toothache or mouth injuries
  • A simple bug out bag drill to evaluate what you might be missing
  • Thoughts on what makes good bag for your bug out kit
  • Thoughts on back up solar charging and additional methods of communications
Original: http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/episode-124-overlooked-items-for-the-bug-out-bag

Keep the Critters Away: Food Storage

I hate opening a package of rice and finding those tiny black bugs and wormy-like things in there. And then, there's the mice problem we've had recently. Trust me, we pack everything pretty tightly. You can too, following these simple thoughts:
  1. Keep your storage area clean. Not just there, but anywhere you have food. Did you get icing buckets from a bakery to store your food? Make sure you cleaned the inside AND the outside.
  2. Seal your food tightly. Did you use a vacuum-sealing machine? Make sure you used plastic that won't allow critters in. And if it's a strong plastic, mice and rats (and dogs and cats) won't smell the food inside and probably won't bother it.
  3. Store in a cool, dry place. Ideal temperature would be between 45-55 degrees F.
  4. If you buy pre-packaged items, make sure they are appropriately sealed. See if they are CO2 or nitrogen-packed, or have dessicant packs. Tin cans sealed at the packing plant are great.
  5. Rotate regularly. First in, first out. Not only will this ensure a current food stock, but you'll get practice using those storage containers while creating recipes using what you have. What would happen if you didn't regularly "check" your stores, and an emergency arrived. You open that big storage bucket you filled with bags and bags of rice to find it crawling with bugs. Ew. Don't let that happen. (More on rotation in Storing Foods, Part 6.)
  6. Packing your own? In addition to dessicant packs, oxygen absorbers, and bay leaves, consider using dry ice.
Original: http://survival-cooking.blogspot.com/2009/01/storing-foods-part-5-pest-free.html

Coffee Can Pocket Survival Kit

Every pocket survival kit will have advantages and disadvantages. Some will work better than others in a certain situations.

PROS : A tin coffee can with a plastic lid is water-proof to a certain degree. Depending on the items stored inside, it will most likely float. Many commercial survival kits are available on the internet or in retail stores. However you’ll often get items of absolutely no use to you. What helps you to survive in your environment may not help another person. Making your own kit tailors it specifically to your survival needs.

CONS : A coffee can does not exactly fit in your pocket, but it is small enough that it could be easily carried around or quickly stuffed into a backpack.


  • COFFEE CAN : Main use is as a container for all the other items. Can be used to hold water, as a make-shift shovel, as a pot for boiling water or melting snow.
  • DUCT TAPE : Multi-purpose, can be used to fasten together shelters, used as bandage, or to temporarily seal a shelter from rain or snow.
  • SUNBLOCK : For obvious reasons.
  • FIRE : For warmth, light, cooking, and help signal. To start a fire with just Mother Nature is not easy. Think “Castaway,” but you probably won’t have Wilson cheering you on. Best to come prepared with some materials like water proof matches, magnesium flint (best), lighter, tinder for fire, and/or cotton soaked with petroleum.
  • INSECT REPELLANT : To keep the bugs away.
  • KNIFE : The choice of a knife could be the topic of a few posts! A Swiss Army Knife or any all-purpose pocket knife will do, especially if it has a small saw for cutting through branches when a blade does not work.
  • FISH HOOKS : I’ve seen this item included in many survival kits. Unless you’re MacGyver or you’ve successful caught fish in a survival situation (not on a fishing trip!), you’re better off with the next item.
  • HIGH-ENERGY SNACK/BARS : Food, food, food!
  • GARBAGE BAGS (2) : One bag can be used for shelter. The second bag can be worn to protect against the elements (rain, cold). A bag could also be used to collect water.
  • DENTAL FLOSS : Pretty strong, and good for tying things together, especially branches/shelters. Do NOT try to use this for climbing. Not only is it not that strong, it will slice into your hand.
  • COMPASS : For obvious reasons.
  • CANDLE : For light, makes your fire more portable.
  • WHISTLE : To signal for help.
  • SIGNAL MIRROR : To signal for help.
  • MONEY : Nothing helps you survive like this currency. Bills are good, but don’t forget coins for phone calls. Make sure to keep both in your kit!
  • FLASHLIGHT : Can be used for light or as a signal.
  • WATER PURIFICATION TABLETS : If you can’t get a fire started to boil your water, chemical purification is the next best thing.
  • IDENTIFICATION : Just in case you forget who you are, it never hurts to have identification.
  • FIRST-AID : Bandages, first-aid tape, tweezers.
  • MEDICINE : Aspirin, anti-histamine, antibiotic ointment (i.e. Neosporin), antidiarrheal medicine (i.e. Imodium-AD)
  • FINALLY, tell people, your family and friends where you’ll be! If no one knows you’re lost in the middle of nowhere, no one will know to look in the middle of nowhere.
Original: http://www.pocketsurvival.com/pocket-survival/coffee-can-pocket-survival-kit

Survival Kit Item - Playing Cards

Sometimes the littlest things can make a huge difference in a survival situation. Having away of entertaining yourself can help you keep your mind sharp, and your moral up. If you lose hope In a survival situation you are as good as dead.

Playing cards can be a great addition to your Bug Out Bag or your hiking backpack. Playing Cards are light weight, and are a great way to keep negative thoughts from creeping into your head. I recommend the mini cards or a good set of waterproof cards.

Original: http://offgridsurvival.com/playingcards-2/