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Monday, March 21, 2011

Guest Post: Firestorm Chapter 10 , by Christopher Young

Prodigal Faith

Call. Oh, that trips a memory. Gomer pulled out his cell phone, and called Heather. From the engine noise in the phone, he could tell that Heather was on the road. Asked for details. The Buick started up fine, after the battery charger. "Where did you hide the keys, really?" Heather asked. She was taking Zack, just in case. "Yes, dear, I did bring the pistol you left. Yes, dear, I do know how to shoot it." As she was talking on the cell phone, Heather was driving west on route 5, going about 35 MPH. Fast enough to get there, but slow enough she could stop if she had to.

Rounding a corner, Heather saw Faith's mini van. "Got to go, dear" she said and disconnected. She and Zach looked, not knowing what to expect. A column of smoke was coming up from the van. Things did not look good.

Smoke, that's what Connie most needed. She was going buggy, with worry. She had to appear calm and collected for the kids sake. Hmm. What would calm the kids. A movie, of course. Connie went outside, to start the generator. It wasn't there. No matter, they could listen to the radio. She went in, and turned on the battery radio that sat over the sink, on the windowsill. The radio crackled with static, and so she tuned the dial. One station. Just one.

Connie finally turned to the kids, and told them to go out and play. Madison and Jade slowly got up from the table, and went out the door. Normally, they would love to go out and play. Today, it was a somber, almost funeral mood. Connie went to the liquor cabinet. If she couldn't smoke, she could drink. She opened the liquor cabinet, and the cabinet was empty. That's strange. Usually a half dozen bottles of booze there. She turned and looked into the living room. There was a booze bottle from when David had offered Chuckie a drink. The bottle was laying on its side, on the floor. the living room smelled of liquor. There was some liquor left in the bottle. Connie sat down on the floor. Picked up the bottle, and put it to her lips. The golden brown liquid burned as it went down, but the warmth in her stomach was a relief. She drank another swallow of liquor, and then another.

The radio over the sink continued to play music. And then the announcer came on "This is KBZW radio from Nashville Tennesee. Bringing you repeats of the songs you remember from the Grand Ol Opry. We now go to local and national news. We have heard an important announcement from the President of the United States. And this is what it says: Dear Civilians, in this time of trouble and hardship, we are reminded again of what makes this country great. Ours is a nation which has survived hard times before, and we will endure this trouble which we have at hand. I am calling on all people to remain calm. Trust your national and local law enforcement. It may be necessary to go for a short period of time to a FEMA center, as this problem is adressed. Do not be afraid. Your rights and liberties under the Constitution will be respected during this period. Please follow all instructions given to you by local or national law enforcement, as we do our best to restore order in this great nation."

In Ohio, the same announcement was being played through the speaker of Sam's multi-band radio. Eyes met across the table. Chris broke the silence by saying it looked like chaos, and total lost control in the nation. Every man for himself. Martial law is in place. There was silent agreement.

And the opposite of lost control. Heather had been driving slowly, and in good control of her Buick. Not sure why there was smoke coming from the mini van. She pulled up behind the mini van, about 100 feet back. Heather left the motor running, and got out. Zack got out the other side. They met, at front of the Buick, and slowly walked towards the mini van. Heather quietly drew the pistol out of the holster. And motioned for Zack to get back in the car.

Heather slowly approached the mini van. She got to the back of the van, and peered in through the window. Nothing appeared to be on fire, in the van. Faith remained slumped over the steering wheel. The horn was silent. But, still, there was the smoke. Heather creeped around the side of the van, and looked out to the front of the van. She didn't believe her eyes. Wasn't sure if she should laugh, cry, or go blind. It was such a surprise.

The two girls had kindled a camp fire, and were beside the camp fire, throwing sticks in. As Heather watched, Bobbi went back into the woods, and got some more sticks. She shared them with Savannah, and they put more sticks on the fire.

"Whatcha doing?" Heather called. Both girls jumped in surprise. Looked toward the van, and then came running for a big hug. The two girls started talking at the same time. There was a confusion of munchkin voices, as they both talked. Heather was used to the confusion, and figured out that the girls woke up. They had remembered the camping training that Gomer had given them. They had set out to start camp breakfast. There was no mess kit, but they did find a lighter in Mom's purse, and some papers in the back of the mini van. After a couple tries, they had a nice camp fire. Which is good, cause it was cold in the morning when they got up.

"How's your Mommy?" Heather asked. Suddenly there was silence. Well, guess we'll just have to go look. Heather hollered back to Zack to bring the trauma kit. Zack knew exactly which bag that was. He hauled it out from the back seat, and it fell to the ground with a thud. He turned, to sling the trauma kit over his shoulder like he'd seen Gomer do so many times. But, Zack wasn't quite tall enough, and he had to drag the bag a little on the ground.

A quick vitals check finds that Faith is still alive. Her pulse is a bit slow, but then she's been unconscious over night. The girls did a great job, to cover her with clothes. Heather checked for pupil reaction. One dilated. Hmm. Probably brain trauma. Hit her head on the steering wheel, maybe. From the crash. Heather called Gomer, on the cell. Time for a medical consult. Gomer asked the vitals, and medical signs. Figured the best thing doing is to move Faith back to Gomer's retreat, and let her sleep it off for a day, see if she recovers. Not much else that they can do, medically.

It took some work to get Faith out of the mini van. The drivers door didn't want to open. So, they had to go through the passenger side door. Heather didn't have much in the way of splints, but they were gentle. Zack was worth more than two ambulance medics. Strong, but small enough that he could work in tight spaces. They loaded Faith into the passenger side of the Buick, and the kids climbed in the back doors.

Heather sent the girls back, to put out the camp fire. And to get any clothes, or anything useful out of the mini van. Figured they might not be able to get back, and the kids would need the clothes to wear.

Heather called Gomer, on the cell. Update on vitals, and the transport was underway. She said something about the girls had started a camp fire, and were staying warm that way. Gomer smiled from ear to ear "That's the girls I know!". The other folks around Sam's table wanted all the details, which Gomer told them after he ended the call.

Fire? Sam looked up when Gomer mentioned the camp fire. "Aren't you supposed to be taking out the trash, and burn it in the barrel?" Since the boys had arrived, Sam decided since they would be here for a couple days, Chris and Gomer should have chores like everyone else. Sam reminded Chris that his chore was to keep the wood pile stocked, next to the wood burning stove. "Yes, that's all done" Chris replied. Brenda went and looked in the other room. She came back and nodded. It was easy enough for Chris to keep the wood pile stocked. Every time he went to the garage to check on the Model A rebuild, he brought back two pieces of wood. Brenda opened the cabinet under the sink. The trash can was filled to over flowing. The food scraps from yesterday stank, and a couple of the baby's diapers were turning strange colors.

"Get your ass in gear, and get to your chores!" Sam hollered at Gomer. Gomer started to say how busy they had been the last few days. But no one believed him. Cause Gomer had spent the last couple days sitting in the recliner chair. Reading Sam's magazines, listening to the radio, and sipping iced tea. Occasionally playing a battery power video game. Sam cranked up a tirade about keeping the chores caught up. Hollered enough that the baby woke, from her nap in the living room.

Gomer finally carried the trash can out, and dumped into the burn barrel. Came back and put the trash can back. Sam started in about doing the job completely. There was plenty of trash piled next to the trash can. And, the burn barrel had not been lit. This went on for most of an hour. Sam hollered, Gomer looked surly and resistant. Finally, the trash got carried out. By this time, Brenda had taken the baby, and gone for a walk around the block.

And, Sammy had come back from his walk. Dad asked him what he did on his walk. "Oh, nothing" was about as much answer as anyone could get from Sammy. Everyone knew there was much more going on. But, they decided not to press for details, at the moment.

About twenty minutes later, Heather arrived back at the Gomer compound. She turned her key in the electric gate lock, and the gate slid open slowly. Drove in, and parked the car right by the side door of the house. Melissa walked in from the swing set, looking very pretty in her play clothes, and pink jacket. She had ear muffs on, which were pretty, but a bit much for the crisp fall season. Heather asked where Shawn was. "Oh, such a boy!" was all Melissa would say. Then, she rolled her eyes up into her head, total exasperation.

Heather hollered for Shawn, yelling out towards the woods. In a few seconds, Shawn arrived, covered in dirt and mud. Looking a bit cold. Faith's two girls looked at Shawn, and started giggling. They looked at each other and then looked at Shawn. Shawn moved both hands to cover his bits, and then started to walk sideways up the stairs, trying not to show his bare butt.

"Back to the job at hand, kids!" Heather commanded. She opened the passenger door, and unbuckled the seat belt which had been holding Faith. Zack helped to carry Faith into the house. They set her gently on the living room sofa. Zack went into the other room to get a blanket. Heather did another vital signs check. Low, but stable.

Low, but stable is how to describe Connie. She had her limit of stress, and was now sleeping on the living room floor. A couple ounces of liquor had calmed her nerves enough that she was able to sleep. Madison and Jade came back in from playing, about an hour later. They were both thirsty and hungry. But what to do? They silently walked over to Connie, and checked to see that she wasn't dead. Enough people were dead around the house, you had to be sure. Madison went into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. the warm fridge smell wasn't all that good, but there was still some orange juice. She poured a glass, and handed it to Jade. Another glass for herself. Madison looked in the cabinet. There was a MRE chicken, which she and Jade both liked. She picked up a sauce pan from the kitchen sink, and rinsed it under cold water. Pair of scissors to open the Mylar foil pouch. "How you gonna heat it? We're not allowed use the stove" Jade asked. "Well, this is an emergency" Madison answered. As the chicken portion was fully in the pan, she opened the valve on the camp stove, and lit a match.

There was a honking noise, and both kids jumped. Madison turned to the stove, figured she'd broken something. But then, they realized it was a car horn. Both kids grew pale, they figured Chuckie had returned. Or some other disaster. They took each other by the hand, and slowly walked towards the front window, to look out.

Looking. That's what five kids were doing, at Gomer's compound. Faith had been placed on the sofa in the living room. "Will she be all right?" Sean asked. "Sure, she'll be fine in a couple days. Now, get cleaned up and put some clothes on, already!" Heather replied. "We don't have any naked wild Indians in this house!" Sean howled the Indian War Dance noise, and ran off towards the bedroom for clothes.

Yo Yo Trap- Survival Fishing

Original Article

Does anyone have any unique ideas about ways to use yo yo traps? What kind of different trap sets work the best for you? Also was wondering if anybody has tried gill nets, throw nets, or other fish trapping apparatus's out there on the market. This is a quick video of how to utilize yo yo traps in your bug out kit!

Dead Fall Fish Trap

Original Article

Wanted to see if you guys have any unique fish traps that you have seen or constructed. Always interested to see if anyone has come up with something unique. So post your favorite fish trapping methods, what commercial products you like to use, or other ways of catching fish in a SHTF situation. This is a video of a trap I use in our area and is a pretty efficient way to get some dinner, check it out!

Stealth Prepping - Op-Sec and Your Preps

Original Article

There’s an old saying that it pays to advertise but when it comes to your preps this may be a very bad idea. Everyday life is often a battle between the “haves” and “have-nots” and if you doubt this reasoning just trying making a list of all the entitlement programs that are presently available out there. During a disaster or crisis this difference will only be multiplied and become even more obvious. Those persons who have prepared (the haves) in advance of a crisis or a disaster may become an even bigger target of those who didn’t prepare (the have-nots).

Now there are many people in the prepping community that are extremely proud of their efforts and the security and peace of mind it affords them. But unlike the proud parents that can’t wait to tell everyone about their new little family member, too much talk about your preps can be a dangerous thing in a true survival situation. The “have-nots” will be looking for the “haves” to provide for them when things get bad. This is a simple fact of nature as there will be a large number of people who are unprepared and will be looking for any way to survive that they can. While you shouldn’t be totally against helping your friends and neighbors, they should also be willing to help themselves.

Now you can still have a proper conversation about your preps with your friends and neighbors without giving away too much information. You just need to avoid the tendency of going into too much detail. As is frequently said, “The devil is in the details.”

Now sometimes the best way to hide your preps is in “plain sight”. People rarely see things for what they truly are and don’t always realize their purpose or their intended value unless you give them the specifics. Although you may want to establish “bragging rights” about your preps, it may not be in the best interest of your security.

So let’s take a look at a simple example of one type of prep that everyone has (or should have). Water is an absolute necessity in a survival situation and having an adequate means of filtering and purifying water is critical. Now a Big Berkey sitting on the counter in your kitchen is going to be pretty obvious to most anyone who happens to stop in or come by for a visit and they are probably going to have a few questions concerning it. This will be especially true if they aren't actually preparedness minded. If they are of the preparedness mindset they may actually know as much or more about it than you do! While you may have a tendency to want to tell your visitors about how great your water purification and filtration system really is, sometimes it’s better to leave out the details if they don’t exemplify a preparedness mindset. Keep your explanations simple and uncomplicated when they ask questions about something. Even though you may have the “biggest and the baddest” water filtration system in town, you probably shouldn’t stress the point to your neighbors or friends, especially if they aren’t “preparedness minded” sort of folks.

So keep things simple by keeping your explanations simple. If someone notices part of your preps, keep the explanation simple and leave out the extra details. In this case, just tell them you didn’t like the taste of your water and are trying to eliminate the problem. The main thing is not to bring too much attention to your preps by giving out too much information or too many details. Save the details for later or wait until they show a genuine interest in being prepared.

Staying above the water line!


Fermented Banana Bread

Original Article

Evidently, I'm not afraid of fermented fruit, because this is the only way to make banana bread. I'm quite opinionated on that.

It's rather weird to think that this may well be the last time I make banana bread. I don't buy bananas anymore.

In my Inventory, I listed 2 ancient bananas that I found in the freezer. I had frozen them in their skins, which is definitely not my preferred way. Some people swear by it, and it's certainly easier when you're freezing them. However, it's icky and messy when thawing.

At any rate, I thawed the bananas, got them out of their skins and left to ferment in a glass measuring cup. This is the way I've been making banana bread for the past twenty years, and I have never once had them go moldy. They will, however, froth and bubble and attract more fruit flies than you thought existed.

The recipe is pretty simple. I usually let my bananas ferment for close to a week. Make it four days if you're nervous. They need to be in something where the gas can escape but air can't get in. A canning jar with a re-used lid just lightly lying on top will work for that.  This time I didn't wait that long because I knew the bananas were pretty ripe when they went in the freezer, plus the freezer breaks them down a lot.

The top layer of the banana will turn almost black. That's okay.
Just stir it and let it set some more. The lady who taught me how to do this would leave them out on the counter, just covered with a bit of plastic, until they were bubbling.

It's a good idea, when you try to take pictures of your fully fermented banana, to actually have the memory card in the camera and not in the computer.

This is fermented banana, plus chunky applesauce to make a full cup.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Most recipes say that, and Mr. Doom thought this was a rule sent down from Heaven. Honestly, I rarely remember to turn on the oven until my batter is almost ready to go in. You'll  get better results if you preheat, though.

This is also a good time to grease your loaf pan. I wonder if everyone reading understands what I mean if I say "grease and flour"? If you're reading this and that doesn't make sense to you, let me know.

This is greased. I used Crisco shortening. I don't use vegetable shortening often, but during this Challenge, it was nice to find that in the back of the fridge after I ran out of butter/ghee.
 This is floured. It really only takes about a tablespoon of flour. Toss it in and then knock the pan against the counter so the flour covers all surfaces. Try it - it's not hard, although you might use a little more flour when you're learning.

At this point, my camera batteries died and I had to put them in the charger. Have to say, by the way, I LOVE having rechargeable batteries for my camera.

The dry ingredients are: 
1 3/4 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Mix these.

If you want it spiced, add:
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla

Don't fret about it, and don't buy spices just for a recipe. I used cinnamon and vanilla in this loaf. Even without spices, it'll taste great.

Now measure the banana. If there's not enough to make 1 cup, add applesauce or any other pureed fruit. Remember, though, there will be a slight flavor from any variations.

Mix together:
1 cup banana and fruit
1/3 cup oil or fat of your choice (I used canola oil)
2 Tb milk or water (I used milk)
2 eggs

Now add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix well.

If you like raisins or nuts or chocolate chips in your banana bread, you can add 1/4 cup of the addition now. I like my banana bread plain. 

Banana bread takes an incredibly long time to cook. It will take an hour, give or take a few minutes. When it's done, the edges will have pulled away from the side of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf will come out clean. That's called the toothpick test and it can also be done with a broom straw. If your broom is made of straw and you're fine with sticking that into your food. Otherwise, you could get an Amish Broom Cake Tester or the much less wasteful metal Cake Tester.  I'll be honest, though - I just use a bread knife.

When the loaf is cooked, place it right side up on a cooling rack for ten minutes, and THEN invert it on the cooling rack to remove.

Batteries are charged and I have a picture for you! The way banana bread cooks, it always seems to leave a split across the top. I think it looks great. Anyway, I grabbed this picture partway through breakfast. In another ten minutes, it's going to be gone.

Butter on this will taste heavenly, but it's moist enough to eat alone.

 The whole loaf cost me about $1.