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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Ant and the Grasshopper

In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about,
chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by,
bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the

"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper,
"instead of toiling and moiling in that way?"

"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant,
"and recommend you to do the same."

"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; we have got
plenty of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and
continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no
food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants
distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had
collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:

It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

We have all been told this story at some point in our lives. It's about working hard and reaping the rewards. It is along those same lines of "Saving for a rainy day"

In 1910 EM Forester wrote in his book Howards End (a novel about class relations in the turn of the 20th century England) "She could not explain in so many words, but she felt that those who prepare for all the emergencies of life beforehand may equip themselves at the expense of joy."

Both these items do have relevance.

Be the ant but never forfeit your joy. My role here on APN and on KSPN is to share my skills at long term self sufficiency. The thing is, anyone hat has spent any time reading my words, knows that I do not go about it alone. I have many ants. Those I barter with, good neighbors, and those that take their time to teach me new things. Skills should be shared, and retained for later use. Find the joy in what you do. My homestead, my family, my friends and my readers are my joy.

Remember this when you prep. Life is way too short to overstress on everything.

You can get Aesop's fables free here
you can read Howards End free here
courtesy of Project Gutenberg.

Banana Crunch Muffins from Food Storage

This delicious muffin recipe is originally from Kathy Farrell-Kingsley for Family Fun Magazine. It has a simple crunchy topping of granola, the sweetness of banana, and the nice little surprise of mini-chocolate chips inside. This is my daughter’s favorite muffin, and I love the recipe because it has healthier ingredients that can come from my food storage.
 banana crunch muffins
1 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. wheat bran
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs (or 2 Tbsp. powdered eggs + 1/4 c. water)
2/3 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. mashed bananas (about 2 medium)
1 c. buttermilk (or 2 1/2 Tbsp. buttermilk powder + 1 c. water)
1/4 c. canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips
1 c. granola

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease the bottoms only of 12 muffin cups.  In a large bowl, whisk together both flours and the bran, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, bananas, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until the batter is blended. Fold in the chocolate chips.  Spoon the batter into the muffin tin and sprinkle tops with granola. Bake the muffins for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before removing from pan.  Makes 1 dozen yummy muffins.

Losing your storage to disaster

Haitians Retrieve Deceased from Collapsed Building by United Nations Photo.Photo Via Flickr User un_photo
Recently we had a reader ‘Lonnie’ write in with the following excellent question, that I’ve heard asked in other forms too;
Was thinking about the earthquake in Haiti, and if that happened along the wasatch front. I live in Utah county in a 2 story home with a basement. My food storage is in my basement. What if the earthquake totally destroys my house and my food storage is buried under the rubble of what was my house? It won’t do me any good when I can’t GET TO IT! Any suggestions on mitigating that problem?
Well Lonnie, it looks like I’m finally going to get around to addressing your question, and hopefully in a helpful manner. I think your question itself gives the necessary questions you will need to ask yourself in order to solve your concerns.  Today of course, you are worrying because of the recent disaster in Haiti, but similar questions ocurr after hurricanes, flooding, and most any other form of disaster. The more news coverage devoted to the disaster, the more people begin to question their own security. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all solution to any complicated, personal issue. Each individual must consider what disasters they are most likely to encounter, then which of those to begin preparing for. No one can cover every scenario so don’t waste your time trying. Stick with those issues you believe are germane to your situation, research your options and begin preparing. Not only does this guide you in what food and supplies you will need, but how you store them.
As you have mentioned, here on the Wasatch Front, we are surrounded by fault lines that could cause any number of problems, and thus are a condition we should prudently prepare for. Lonnie, like most of us along the Wasatch Front stores her food in the basement. This makes sense, there is usually more space; stable, cooler temperatures, and it’s not ‘in your face’ all the time or competing with your decorations for attention. However, that’s a lot of house sitting on top of everything should it all come down due to a geologic event. To me this brings a couple of things to mind:
  1. Should you put all your food storage in a single location?  If possible, spread things around a little.  Maybe that means doing something like having an attached cellar if you somehow have the space and time, but I know many of us don’t.  I have a part of my garage that is well insulated so I can put certain canned goods out there.  A lot less house will land on it in that case.
  2. Support and Protections. In the case of an earthquake or other event, houses rarely completely collapse. Based on their position in the house and proximity to supporting structures, furniture, etc. your preps may be well protected. You can keep that in mind when you situate your food storage area. And if you don’t have enough support already, you can add some protective devices either to your house, or just around your storage locations (better containers, shelving, etc).
  3. Accessibility.  Even in a really bad earthquake, and if your house really does fall down, that doesn’t mean all your food is lost.  You will actually have more concern about food damage from fires, or from any water damage than from the collapse itself.  Sure some cans, and definitely glass jars will break, but many will still be good, just hard to get to.  But I’m sure it will be possible to do so with some work.  If you’re hungry, and you know you’ve got a years supply (mostly) of food under a floor or two worth of scrap lumber, you just know you’ve got some great seasoned firewood to cut before the BBQ, and that’s the *worst* case.
Now, the best thing to know before it happens is how to prevent losing your food storage, or other supplies in the case of a disaster (in this case an earthquake, adapt to floods or any other region’s favorite flavor of doom). Remember that if everything you have is in a single location, then Murphy will cause that to be the epicenter of whatever disaster you have. We all know that’s how he likes to work. Find out ways to possibly take advantage of more than one place in your house. If you are just extra lucky, maybe you have close family that you can trade storage space with, or maybe you have a storage unit, or somebody with property might have a cellar, barn, or shed.
Second, remember that some storage items shouldn’t be kept together. Maybe you have a nicer generator, or camp stove. Well of course you don’t want to keep that fuel near your food. Even without a natural disaster, that is a potential disaster on its own. But also think about what other things won’t mix well if shaken (or stirred). Are your liquid filled glass jars located above cardboard cake mix boxes or are those sealed mylar bags protecting your dried mixes?
The worst case in an earthquake means you don’t have *any* need for that food you’ve been storing.  As our friend the Preparedness Pro says, “Wouldn’t it be ironic if I was crushed under my wheat in a disaster?”.  Let’s step back one level though and say you were lucky enough not be killed during a major earthquake.  The time immediately after that earthquake is really important.  We should all know that it’s not safe to just go back into a building right away, and after ensuring the safety of our family you should of course make sure the gas, electric, and water to your house are turned off.  You have a much larger chance of losing everything you have to something going wrong with those than you do to the direct effects of the earthquake itself.  This is something you will likely need some basic tools for, and must learn how to do ahead of time.  Now, if you are standing outside your house, people are physically safe, and utilities are off, then this is the time that your ‘72-hour kit’ was designed for.  During that time you can use the resources in that kit to make sure your family has what it needs, and you can begin to assess the situation.  Aftershocks are likely in the few days following an earthquake, so you don’t want to be poking around in a house that is now more likely to collapse, but you can begin to assess the situation. Maybe your house really wasn’t that damaged, and you can move important resources outside. Maybe everything looks just fine, and you can begin to look closer for any harder-to-find damage points.
There are some disasters we can never be truly ready for, and others where you might just get the short end of the stick and lose everything.  But in giving honest thought to the problem, you’ll see that we can take basic steps to improve our chances for even large disasters.

When to go?

Jim of Survival Blog gives some heads up indicators of collapse. Somebody wanted to know when to head to his retreat.
Here are some important indicators to watch for, in my humble estimation. (Witnessing just one of these won’t be surely indicative, but if we see several of these…) :
A sharp spike in the Federal Funds Rate
News of a failed Treasury auction, or news that Treasury rates have spiked
Overt talk of a US default by Asian or European bankers
Multiple (8+) simultaneous US bank failures on one Friday
Any large Northern Rock style bank runs in the US (with customers lined up on the streets)
A stock market drop of more than 1,200 points in one day
A large and sudden spike in inflation
Any suspension of US stock trading
Draconian new stock trading limits (for example any new “circuit breaker” rules, followed by news that the trading was halted because of the limits)
New restrictions on either precious metals purchasing reporting requirements
New limits on moving funds outside the US
Any large derivatives trading collapses.(Because of disappearing counterparties or illiquidity.)
News that hundreds of hedge funds are suspending redemptions
News that many Money Market funds are dropping below $1.00 Net Asset Value (NAV)
US Dollar Index (USDI) dropping below 68 for more than one full week of trading.
Any sudden large interest rate moves by the FOMC. (Up or down.)
Rioting in several metropolitan centers simultaneously.
Gold spiking past $1,500 per ounce
News that any major western power is no longer accepting US Dollars in payment for key commodities
News that any major trading partners are no longer rolling over the majority of their US Treasury paper
A closed session of the full congress that lasts a full day or longer.
The Treasury starts to extensively monetize debt.
The resignation of either the Treasury Secretary or the Federal Reserve Chairman.
Mel Gibson moves to Fiji ;-)
What I don’t understand is why they think heading to some retreat they own is going to do them any good with the onset of active Fascism?
I was in Chile under martial law. I was very young, but there were police on the streets with machine guns. Curfew was strict. Definitely no hordes, it was quiet. Nobody dared make a peep, they knew they’d be shot or disappeared.
If we have collapse, there will be immediate institution of martial law, all rights suspended and a strict curfew. Everything is in place already for a suspension of constitutional rights. The government, administrative branch will take over everything, from the corner store, the local church, to all industry.
Inner city denizens breaking curfew or looting will be shot on sight, actually, everybody will be. Law and order (or dead bodies) will reign…so running from those dark hordes running wild in survivalists fevered television inspired imaginations is sorta fruitless. What else are you running from other than dark rampaging hordes? Do you think American fascist authorities (military or mercenary contractors) are going to tolerate general lawlessness without general bloodshed? Think again.
Say you do make it out to the hinterlands to your retreat. Shortly after, registrations are announced…maybe they want to microchip everybody, whatever, they WILL track everyone. They’ll go by ownership rosters, utility databases and the ubiquitous credit bureau databases. You have utilities, you made a purchase that was delivered, you have a credit card or auto loan, you own your land. They know who and where you are.
You have no choice but to be registered or leave your comfy retreat. The borders are still open, but you hear it’s harder and harder to leave. You can’t imagine leaving your retreat, abandoning your plans, your hard-earned storage, or the beloved U.S. of A. for the unknown. After all Americans are the bestest, better than anywhere or anybody else. So you stay.
Once they’ve registered you and your family, they can do exactly what they want to you. You have three kids, a wife and care for your wife’s elderly mother. They decide on the basis of your past military record, you have to join up again. You have no choice or you will be arrested. You are hearing those arrested are disappearing, never to be heard from again.
All borders are tightly closed, and all airlines and air traffic nationalized. People can only get in or out of the country woth extreme government clearance. Unauthorized planes are shot down, as are people crossing the borders. They’ve gotten serious, as they have plenty of slave labor for the newly nationalized corporations now and have no need of illegals. You can’t get out now, not even walking out. Besides, Canada and Mexico have been annexed.
Your wife is to be sent to a slave labor camp. It’s either that or arrest to the concentration camps and their furnaces. Your kids are sent to the child state re-education camps. Your wife’s screams as they take the kids away ring in your ears.
You want to fight, your fingers are itching to get to your buried and hidden guns and ammo, but you know it’s certain death for you and your family (the rifle pointed at your heads give you a clue). The survival urge is strong. You don’t want to be one of those families you’ve heard about, killed and buried on their own land. Your wife’s mother is taken to a concentration camp with constantly running furnaces. Your wife’s and children’s lives hanging over your head on your performance keep you in line in your new unpaid military slave job. Your emergency stores and weapons are confiscated and last you hear, Mr. Fatcat ex-Lehman banker is living in your retreat.
Yep, you shoulda left the U.S. when you could.
Oh here’s an article on how to get utilities without giving your social security number, basically it’s simply to give them a deposit and refuse to give it…but check it out, once those utilities are on they know where you are. And they do know who’s you. If they have your date of birth and name, they’ve ID’d you–that’s all they need in lieu of SS#. Better to get utilities in a different name (can you get somebody else to get then in their name?) and for heaven’s sake don’t give them an accurate birthdate.
Originally posted 2009-06-16 09:10:00.
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Security when the present systems fail

  1. Look as if you have nothing worth stealing.  Blend in.  Be willing and able to run and hide.
  2. Don’t look for fights, avoid them.  It ain’t the movies where the bad guy never hits anybody important.  No matter how big and bad you are or how much guns and ammo  you have, once the cross fire starts, your or your children could be hit.  You lose then, period, no matter what the outcome of the battle.
  3. Obey the law and keep a low profile.  Give the powers that be no reason to notice you.
  4. Keep your stores secret and hidden–impress that on your children or keep them secret from your children.  Don’t be trusting.
  5. Be aware of your surroundings and the people in it.  Notice new people and any changes.  Again, be alert and not trusting.
  6. Live in a community–don’t isolate yourself.  Those isolated folks out in the boonies?  Easy to ambush and pick off, no matter how much ammo and guns they have.  Animals herd together to increase their odds of survival against predators.
  7. Organize your community to protect itself–this doesn’t necessarily mean gun fights (once that starts, you have a high probability of losing someone you love whether you win or not)–it does mean watching out for each other and coming to each others aid when in distress.
  8. Use subtle physical security–that means making your home harder to break into–things such as locks, bars and gates.  I use the word subtle because you don’t want it to seem as if you’re taking pains to protect your riches.  
  9. An alarm animal is invaluable–an animal that will raise hell of a stranger comes close or into its territory.
  10. Know when to fold ‘em and get the hell out. Always remember the Jews that fled were the ones who survived.  
Since no one can reliably foretell the future, it is impossible to prepare for all contingencies.  Your intelligence, and flexibility will always count for a lot.
 I see many survivalists only preparing security for one scenario, shooting people and having firefights.  They’ve watched too many movies.
What if survival entails moving and abandoning all your stuff, maybe even leaving the country?  In how many real life shit hitting the fan scenarios do you see refugees rather than people dug in and shooting it out?
In most of the real life scenarios, refugees are what happen.  When things get real bad, there’s usually occupation by militarized forces.  It behooves you NOT to have a gun when any militarized forces do their house to house searches.
In retrospect, there’s no fail safe security planning.  You need to be intelligent enough to read the signs of change and flexible and adaptable enough to act on them.  
Originally posted 2009-09-10 06:46:00.
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