Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Prepare: Business Travel Preparedness

I travel frequently, (1-2 trips per month) and as such, like to travel ready for anything. By car, I can carry anything I may need. But most business trips are by airplane, which raises questions as to what I can legally and safely carry while on trips away from home.

To start, most of my trips are to urban and developed locations and all are in the continental U.S. (CONUS). I have colleagues who travel outside of the U.S. to Africa and Asia for instance; I could not imagine what I would do in those circumstances so I am thankful for what I have to work with.

When I travel, I carry a roller board suitcase and a backpack. I have always preferred backpacks over over-the-shoulder computer bags. Besides the fact they can be carried on two shoulders (I use this more frequently than you would think), they are designed to be carried for longer periods of time and have more features than a standard laptop bag.

While I would like to say I carry some expensive Kelty business ready backpack, all of my backpacks are generic, rugged bags which I replace annually.

There are a few things I prepare for while on business trips. They include:

Low risk:
Flight delays or reroutes due to weather, repairs, etc.
Getting bumped from my hotel or losing reservation
Change in travel plans, i.e. extra night or day travel

High risk:
Plane crash landing
Weather disaster such as hurricane
National emergency which grounds flights, i.e. such as 9/11
Other national emergency, like the kind we talk about here...

Here is how I pack:

My roller board contains my spare shoes (generally a pair of sneakers for workouts), workout clothes (sweatpants, t-shirt, hoodie and socks), and another set of business clothes.

Depending upon the time of year, I will carry gloves, thermals, a hat and a heavy pair of pants such as jeans and a pair of boots when traveling in the winter. I always bring along a hat regardless of the season.

The outer pockets of the roller board contain nearly always food. I pack foods which are approved for air travel and can be brought onboard. Almost always they consist of:

Packets of oatmeal
Boxes of raisins
Ramen noodles
Protein bars

You cannot carry bottled water through security; TSA will throw it away. So I sometimes purchase two overpriced bottles of water at the airport store once inside the gate area. Sometimes, the airline will give you a bottle if you ask on the plane, but not usually.

In my roller board, I also carry a portable water filter and bottle contraption I purchased at REI.

In my backpack I carry more food and other supplies. Besides protein bars and hard candy, I also have the following:

flashlight - 2. One small standard and another a clip on carabiner type.
3 heavy duty plastic bags. These are large enough to hold a laptop and are especially sturdy. When my company moved our office, the office manager gave me some of these.
2 standard black trash bags - for shelter, to carry
2 ziplock bags - pack small items, carry water, etc.
Tools and knives are no-nos on the plane.
I usually have a small first aid kit.
1 pair of nitrile gloves
2 N95 masks
(nope, I have never received a funny look or had a problem with these in my bag).
1 compass
1 road map for the area I am visiting.
1 spare pair of socks.
Sanitizing gel (actually, I stick this in my pocket in case it is taken by security).
1 pack of kleenex - those little packages. Guess what - toilet paper!
1 pack of matches. I manage to put those in my suit jacket and they are never taken by security.
1 lightweight wind/rain coat.

If the plane goes down in the middle of the wilderness and I survive, I have the makings of a shelter, light, and something to eat.

I know it is not likely I will survive an aircrash, but what if I am stranded at my destination city? Say there is a nuclear attack or other SHTF event? I will have the start of my pack to get from Point A to Point B (home).

Wish list:

We all wish we could travel "packed".
I wish I could bring along a multi tool.
I wish I could bring along another form of communication besides a cell phone.
I wish I could pack a car, trailer fully stocked in my roller board too.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Prepare: Budget Survival Food List

I have made similar entries on this topic before, but it comes up frequently in conversations with others unfamiliar or new to preparing.

Food. We take for granted that the grocers will be open twenty four by seven down the street or that Costco will have pallets of food always available. The reality is, we have it good with the amount and supply of food in our stores. It was not always that way.

"The First Things To Go After A Crisis"

Two generations ago, the standard grocery store was a corner Piggly Wiggly not much bigger than a 7-11. It was dominated by canned goods and staples like flour and sugar. Produce was out front in barrows for passersby to examine and purchase. A butcher stood at the back of the store and cut steaks and chops to order. There was no plastic wrapped meat and shoppers had a limited, but fresh choice of meats.

A generation before that, we had open markets with butchers, green grocers and the like often time hawking still living animals like chickens, geese and ducks. Eggs sat in baskets next to metal covered cans of milk.

And here we are today. With massive warehouses of food minutes away from home. Walmart, Sams, Costco and he numerous supermarkets as well.

Food, comparatively speaking to earlier generations, is still cheap. Those oranges from Brazil, coconuts and bananas from the Pacific, limes from Mexico were unheard of in our grandparents time. And the cost back then would have been a working man's wages for a handful or bananas or lemons.

However, at the same time that food is available and cheap, it is also a blink away from being gone. For instance, what happens when gasoline is no longer available for shipping? Or if civil war breaks out in Mexico? Or a virus or bug affects crops in Florida or North Dakota?

We depend so much upon healthy water, air, conditions, weather, relations with other countries and fuel that any of these factors or a combination of them could disrupt our food supplies in just a few days.

Fortunately for you and me, most of our fellow citizens are still scarfing down a) fast food, b) to go meals from restaurants, c) prepared foods from the gourmet grocers, d) frozen meals and e) a pre-packaged diet plan advertised by a middle aged celebrity which means..

There is plenty of food for us today and tomorrow to stock up on. Regular things like produce, meat, canned and packaged food, and frozen staples. That means we can stock up now and go back for more tomorrow before it is all gone.

With the diminishing power of the dollar, how long before Mexico, Chile or Brazil decide they aren't going to send any more lemons, limes, oranges or bananas our way?

Or what if the Middle East goes nuclear bonkers (five minutes away any day) and oil shoots to 200.00 a barrel? Nearly everything in the store will be in short supply or so high priced your mortgage payment will look like a deal compared to food.

With money tight, what can you do today?

First, stock up on things which can make meals for several days and months. Not a frozen "hot pocket pizza" but real food.

Suggestions -

- Rice
- Dried beans
- Powdered milk
- oil and cooking lard
- canned vegetables and fruit
- canned meats like tuna and salmon.
- Sugar, syrup and honey.
- spices
- salt
- canned soups
- flour, baking powder and baking soda

All of these foods will keep for months if not years. And when combined together, can make healthy and filling foods.

This will work as long as water and power are available. For water, start storing water now and have a plan to get more. Even rain water can be filtered and boiled and drunk. Further power can come from a hot plate attached to a car battery if need be.

Best of all, budget and money. These foods above are relatively inexpensive. Unlike Long Term Foods like MRE, these ingredients can be combined to make many meals over a long period of time. MRE and the like are good for short term, on the move meals and worse of all, are very expensive.

So, save some money, make a list and start stockpiling these foods now. One more piece of advice, augment your stored food with a decent garden. Seeds are real cheap and available right now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SHTF: Post Crash Travel, BOV, Car Wars

The topic of ground travel, by car, truck or tank, has been explored post-SHTF for years. In survivalism, there are two schools of thought:

Bug In - In your current retreat, or after a quick trip, to another retreat. Residents will "hunker down" and wait things out or move on with their life in their new home.

Bug Out - Can mean one of two things: Leave for a distant retreat or stay on the road traveling from place to place searching for supplies and a place to hole up.

Let's tackle Bug Out.

There is nothing wrong with planning on getting out of dodge, say an urban or suburban location, for a remote rural area. Having a fixed destination, be it yours or a friends is a plan for many survivalists.

However, remaining mobile is another matter. Highways and Interstates will be the first to become impassable and later, a series of traps and ambushes.

Next will come the secondary roads and state highways. Towns will be roadblocked and open areas will house more ambushes and traps - some temporary and others permanent.

Finally, roads surrounded by any number of towns or refugee camps will become the lairs of bandits and vermin lying in wait.

In the Mad Max world, scavengers roamed the back roads and highways for a tank of juice or can of dog food. That unrealistic situation would end in the real world with a simple roadblock or cinder block tossed through a moving car window.

In reality, roads would be the last place I would want to wander around on searching for supplies or shelter.

However, having a vehicle to get from Point A (home) to Point B (retreat) is necessary. Word to the wise: you can never haul everything with you. A car or truck can only hold so much. Maybe a month or two of food, a few guns and any available remaining room populated by gasoline, spare tires and water.

A trailer is useful, but remember, that is another set of tires to go flat and the weight drastically slows down the ability of the vehicle hauling it. A trailer should have been loaded and moved long before the SHTF.

Nope, for me, a BOV (bug out vehicle) is an off road capable pickup, high off the ground, with a week or two of supplies in the back, family and friends inside the cab and enough firearms on board to keep bad guys off my back.

Supplies for the retreat will have been propositioned and additional supplies, if needed, will have to be obtained or bartered for later. There is no way I am going to haul six months worth of canned goods, a generator and 500 gallons of fuel along for the ride. Too much and too dangerous.

A BOV is a last ditch option as well. Unless totally necessary, a plan which involves hitting the road at the last minute is not a real plan. For instance, if economic collapse is the problem, like now, it will build over a period of time giving one plenty of time to plan a long term exodus to a retreat.

However, in an unexpected nuclear strike scenario, fleeing at a moment's notice will be the rule of the day. If this should happen, keep these suggestions in mind..

- Have the car or cars always full of fuel or close to it.
- An extra five gallon can filled for each car. Do this now.
- At least one extra empty five gallon gas car for each vehicle.
- Maintain the spare tire in the vehicle and consider adding another kept in the garage which can be tied to the roof.
- Have bug out bags always ready.
- Have portable food and water ready to go as well.
- Family and friends should be trained to get out the door and in the car in minutes, not hours.
- One car is easier than trying to maintain a caravan of untrained vehicles.
- Have radios including FRS and CB for contact. Don't count on cell phones.
- Have directions and driving plans laid out ahead of time. Do not plan on using the main roads, interstates, highways or toll roads. Instead use back streets, country roads and trails for escape.
- Have rally points along the way with times and meetups arranged ahead of time.
- Plan on refueling and rest stops along the way. Don't count on the kindness of strangers or traditional businesses being open.
- Don't stop for any reason until the final destinations are reached.

The roads are the last place I would want to be post-SHTF. One day you are in a vehicle, the next on foot and a day later, taking a dirt nap. Either bug in or bug out with the minimum supplies and plan today on stocking what you need tomorrow.

Monday, March 16, 2009

SHTF: Coupons and the Garden Rush

Coupons and grocery shopping are to survivalists what taxes are to politicians; one has a hard time existing without the other.

As people who are preparing, we take advantage of any money saving means to buy extra and lots of staples for the pantry. When we shop, we always have a list, always use a cart (that's a buggy for you people in foreign lands like England, Belgium and Michigan)and follow the mantra "one is none and two is one".

So, using coupons at the grocery store saves us lots of dough. With many of us downsized or furloughed from the job, men and women who formerly spent more time in the to go line at the local restaurant are now finding themselves looking for deals in the grocery store.

Here are some hints for you first time bargain shoppers.

- Sign up for the grocery cost saver card whatever it may be. When shopping, there are two prices displayed on an item, regular purchase price and a lower "members only" purchase price. You don't get the lower price unless you have a shoppers card.
For the paranoid: Yes, the store will track your purchases. I know this because they send me plain, but good, store coupons, on things I buy regularly. Further, when my receipt prints at my grocers, I receive another receipt based upon what I bought.
If this bothers you, fill out your shoppers card with bogus information. The store does not care and won't check your ID.

- Sale flyers arrive at home on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

These flyers from the grocers are to be viewed before you go to the grocery store not while in them.
Set down at the table. For each store, note what is on sale at the grocers and what you actually eat. Note how much you have in the house and if the product is worth purchasing or storing for later.
This is the start of your grocery list.

- Coupons come in the Sunday paper.

Don't get a subscription to the paper if you can get a copy of the coupons from a friend or neighbor for free.
Clip the coupons of products you actually use or would like to store. Compare this list to the sale list you compiled earlier. Better, clip the Sunday coupons and use the sale pages the following Tuesday or Wednesday.
Note: Many stores are not accepting internet coupons any longer due to fraud. Remember that when someone wants you to sign up for "freebies" on line.

- Go to stores with double and triple coupons.
Double and triple is what you think it is - double or triple the printed savings value on the coupon. .35 off? Make it .70 o even 1.05!
Note: Most stores have limits on double and triple coupons such as .50. Others do not, so they are worth looking for.

- BOGO - Buy One Get One free
Coupon + BOGO sale generally means free + free. Keep an eye peeled for these deals.

- 10 for 10 is sometimes not a great deal

So you see a store flyer with 10 cans of Chef Boy-R-Dee for $10. What a deal right? It depends because a careful examination of other stores may show that same can goes for .88. Suddenly that deal is not so good as it would save you 1.20 to buy those same cans elsewhere.
Stores use the "many for one price" marketing technique not because it saves you money but because it moves merchandise fast.

Finally, use a grocery list and stick to it.
Too many shoppers think they can keep it in their head and save money. It won't happen. Make a list and use it religiously.

If you use a coupons, sales and a list, you can fill your pantry with lots of good food and can plan menus based upon what you have.

The Great Garden Rush.

Gardening for food is a bug everyone gets in the spring, but this year, it is more than a passing fancy.

Gardening for food may mean survival for you and your family.

First, forget all that "sustainable, community, earth, preachiness" online. Gardening for food is necessary for you and your family to save money now and guarantee a food supply later. The "community" can find their own plot of land and till it; I have mine and will trade for tools, seeds and labor under equal terms. Not so I can build a sustainable imaginary future. Bah.

I digress..

The home stores and garden centers are full of potting soil, fertilizer, seeds, seedlings, dwarf fruit trees, berry bushes and tools.

They won't be for long. In a month or so, only some measly looking tomato plants and a few oddball herbs will be left. Everyone is on board with gardening, not flowers or ornamentals, but fruit and vegetables this year.

First, plot out your yard for garden space.

Next, get to the store and start buying seedlings if the ground is ready or seeds if planting time is still a month or so away.

Then, get busy in the garden. It will take work but eating is worth it.

Remember, a garden will not magically feed a family. You will need to supplement with grains, rice, fats and oils. Buy those in bulk now.

Also, don't forget storage for fruit and vegtable after harvesting. That means drying (get a dehydrator) and canning (get those supplies now). Freezing helps too if the power is on.

Get busy in that garden before the Rush is fully underway and there is no more time!

Get your non-hybrid seeds here now!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

SHTF: Garden, Urban, Inflation

Sunday round up of miscellaneous stuff.. Here goes.

Gardening this weekend.

I setup a new raised bed in the backyard. This was pretty simple.

Cleared a 4 x 6 area of grass and weeds. Turned the soil.

Built out of left over bricks a 12" wall, (no cement) around the area.

Filled with 6 bags of soil from garden store.

Layered newspaper in the bottom to kill off any additional weeds.

Ready to plant with 3 tomato plants or bell pepper.

I won't put any down right now until the weather warms up. It's in the 50s today and set for the 70's this week, but who could have predicted the cold snap we had this past week?

Time: 1 hour.

Went to the garden store that same afternoon. Dwarf fruit trees and berry bushes are available. The prices were low and now is the time to stock up on these as online retailers are out of most fruit and berry plants.

Consider fruit tree availability like ammunition sales are now. They won't be available at all soon when people start getting wise to growing their own food. Sure, may will imagine that fruit tree producing 'store ready' produce in a few months, but realistically, if the tree is well taken care of, could produce some nice fruit next year or the year after.

By the way, the seed section was pretty well picked over too. More and more people are putting in food gardens this year what with the economy doing so well and prices going up.

Which brings up the next observation: Inflation.

With FedGov printing and pushing so much imaginary cash, it is having less value. Prices at Costco early yesterday morning were higher than I had seen before. Everything as two dollars more expensive than it was last October.

As debt-backed money increases, tangible goods cost more. Further, suppliers in other country, seeing our dollar decrease in value, demand more money for same goods. For instance, jasmine rice, produced in Thailand, was four dollars more expensive than the last time I shopped.

There were also several products understocked or low at Costco. This could be the beginning of shortages in the near future. Stock up now on staples like flour, honey, sugar, oil and so on.

Urban survival?

There has been a rash of stories sympathetic to this cause lately.

Urban survival means making do in the city during hard times or after the SHTF. There are a bunch of survival minded folks who believe that "peak oil", shortages, and other problems will force most of us back into cities.

The concept is that cities will become urban oasis' of like minded individual, families and quasi communes cooperating as they eek out an existence.

Homes, (buildings) will have roof top solar and rain collectors. Vacant lots will feature community gardens. Citizens will walk to work, shop and drop their kids off at nearby schools.

The problem with this scenario is lack of space.

If peek oil forces all of us into urban centers, the vacant lot will be razed for a new high rise condo to squeeze all the new citizens in.

Many jobs, such as manufacturing or retail, require more space and will compete for homes and schools for the room.

Even roof tops will be squeezed and hard pressed to provide enough power or water for all the citizens.

Further, money and power talk. That quaint neighborhood with its community gardens and proximity to shopping and jobs will be commandeered by the newly returned power elite just back from their far flung suburbs. Old residents will find themselves and their belongings thrown in the back of an open truck destined for the edges of society.

Nope, my theory is based upon the underpopulated suburb. Vast tracts of abaondoned homes and strip malls. One family home occupied out of every five or six houses. Gardens in overgrown backyards. Small scale livestock product such as goats, chickens and rabbits.

Swimming pools converted to cisterns. Solar panels and windmills generating power. Neighborhood groups organized for defense and protection while a few fortunate members work from home on hijacked Internet connections.

The key is space. Lots of room for production and food while still within an organized grid of streets and dwellings.

Now the smart, true rural prepper is laughing at my scenario right now. "The suburbs will fall to the gangbangers and welfare bums as soon as they cities are stripped clean", they say.

And they are probably right, but its my opinion and they have theirs. Regardless, I don't think the Kumbaya urban survivalist option is any better; its far worse.

Before the weekend ends, get to the garden store and do some stocking up. Spring is in the air, let's get those gardens ready!

Get your non-hybrid garden seeds here now!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

SHTF: SHTF Fiction Online

We all love reading end of the world fiction, right? Thanks to the Internet, there is a wealth of entertaining and free stories available online for any and all to read.

Look around and you may find the next "Lights Out" or "Deep Winter" out there.

The trick is finding the best sites for SHTF fiction. There are many sites which are no longer maintained and feature older works. Most of the sites out there feature original works but also include personal survival stories ("I was lost in the woods..") as well as reading suggestions and movies.

Please note: There is a problem with many authors as they tend to write part time and when the mood strikes them (and when work and home allow!), so some stories are incomplete.

Here are the places I find the best SHTF stories.


OK, this site is mine and has a few short stories in progress, most of which are finished, but all which are not getting enough feedback or criticism to move faster. Please visit and leave a comment.

Note: A Change of Major is my latest story and is nearly complete.

TimeBomb 2000 - Member Stories

This is where Deep Winter, Shattered, We Interrupt This Program and so many other great stories got their start.
Lately, there have not been as many quality entries, but all of the past stories, with the exception of TSherry's work, have been maintained for reading.

The Preparedness Site

This was the old Fallout Shelter 653 website now redone in 2008. This site features the original work of Jerry D Young, probably the most prolific SHTF fiction writer out there, as well as other works.

Preparing for the end of the world? Click Here!

The Survivalist Boards

One of my favorite sites to visit. The stories here are first rate and are updated regularly. There are a couple of authors who routinely start stories and never finish them, but that is common with this genre.

However, there are some great stories which will keep you riveted to your seat. Check out Montani Semper Liberi. Gripping story!


Affectionately known as ARFCOM, the Essential Survival Guides and Fiction section of the forum has some great stories.

Since this site is primarily about the AR15 weapon, nearly every story features that particular rifle prominently.

Best picks - Darkest Part of Day I and II. How in the world the author "fast45" can write something of this quality part time is beyond me.

Survival Monkey

Not so many stories, but several made their start here. Worth perusing for new titles.

Frugal Squirrels

Was one of the oldest and greatest. This is where Lights Out started and Gary Ott (Tired Old Man) left his mark. Now, it has been taken down and is no longer available but searching the internet for archived stories may prove useful.

There are other sites which I come across from time to time, but these are a good place to start if you are new to SHTF fiction.

Happy reading!

Advice for the day:

Rain barrels are a great way to save water for home and plant use. Use the down spout of your rain gutters and place an old trash can underneath. It is best to put a piece of screen over the top to keep out leaves and trash and to keep mosquitoes from breeding. There are plenty of "How To" online. Google it.

Get Food Insurance Now - Mountain House Freeze-Dried Food

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

SHTF: SHTF/Survival Movies On YouTube

I read in a forum recently about how hard it was to find a copy of a certain doomer movie at the video store or on Amazon. This is no longer a problem thanks to YouTube.

Here is a good selection of some fine survivalist films available at YouTube.

Damnation Alley!

Omega Man!

No Blade Of Grass! (very rare)

Red Dawn!

The Day After!

Threads (parts of it)

Night of the Comet!

That should be enough to keep you entertained while waiting for a sequel to "Lights Out" or "Deep Winter"!

Advice for the day:
Frugal means packing a sack lunch for work.
Cheap means eating lunch at a restaurant and not leaving a tip.

Monday, March 09, 2009


There are a bunch of holy war type conversations which all would do well to avoid..

Mac vs PC
Kirk vs Picard
Mary Ann or Ginger?

Topping that list in the preparedness and self defense world is the Holy Grail of decisions - AR (as in AR15) or AK (as in AK-47).

The AR-15 is the civilian version of the United States main battle rifle, the M-16. First introduced during the Vietnam War specifically in the 1960's, the AR has become one of the most popular sporter rifles available to the avid shooter.

The AR-15 uses a .223 (NATO 5.56) cartridge which has a muzzle velocity of 3,200 ft/s and an effective range of 600 yd.

The AK-47 (and other variants) was first introduced shortly after World War II. There AK fires the 7.62x39mm cartridge which has a muzzle velocity of 2,300 ft/s. There is not a civilian separate version of the AK-47 in the United States.

Both rifles can be equipped with larger capacity magazines in the 20 and 30 round range and larger.

So which one is best post-SHTF?

There are arguments from both sides.

The AR-15 is used by civilian police departments and fires the same cartridge as the military's M16. Between police and military stock, this means lots of ammunition for the AR is available.

In addition, the AR is manufactured in the U.S. by several manufacturers as are the magazines and ammunition. Which means a good chance for spare parts later in life.

The drawback is the durability and inherent technical problems associated with the AR. During combat, many of our military have complained about the effectiveness of the .223 cartridge, that it has a difficult time penetrating material other than people.

Further, dirt, dust and water can quickly jam the AR and make it a "thousand dollar club".

"Do you really have enough food stocked when the SHTF?"

The AK fires a larger round than the AR15. In addition, the AK has a reputation for being reliable to the point of extreme. Allegedly, it can be submerged in water, filled with mud and buried for a month, and still fire from the get go.

Finally, the AK is the standard throughout most of the developing world. Supposedly, there are more AK variant rifles in existence than any other firearm.

So which is best for post-SHTF?

My own opinion is that the AR if the better choice. The ammunition is available and manufactured here in the States. With a stroke of the pen, the Federal Government can ban the sale and importation of foreign firearms and ammunition.

AK owners depend upon low cost ammo and magazines from former Soviet countries to feed and maintain their weapons. If that lifeline is shut down, than those rifles will get hungry fast.

The AR is a U.S. standard which means to me, new ammunition supplies can be obtained at retail outlets "before" and from supply locations "afterwards". There is a good chance some ammo, magazines and even rifles may be in a prone position on the ground and available for salvage.

Yes, the AK has a high survivability rate due to its durability, but I worry about the supply line feeding it. Unless we are invaded by hordes of third world soldiers which will make me switch to the AK in a heartbeat.

You tell me.. comments welcome..

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Prepare: Wood Burning Furnaces, Chickens

I was reading another prep forum this morning and wood burning furnaces came up.

Until now, here was my thinking. You have gas and electric furnaces and you have wood burning stoves. I was way wrong most likely because I do not live in the Northeast or Midwest but way down in the Sunbelt.

A wood burning furnace is a furnace which can provide heat for an entire home if installed correctly.

But a wood furnace makes sense and is something I am consider for next year (but to purchase sooner - buy when its warm and save money).

I found this one from Home Depot using Google just at random.

If you are like me and know nothing about wood furnaces, they work like this.

The furnace either burns either wood logs or manufactured fuel such as pellets.
The furnace has a blower (AC powered) which blows the hot air through the existing duct works.
The furnace can be stand alone or work with your current home heating system.

The best wood burning furnaces use standard logs. Pellet fuel is not ideal as what would happen if your fuel source were to disappear?

Logs are best and are available in your local area by the cord. Speaking of which, ordering and having seasoned firewood before you really need it is as important as having a furnace or wood burning stove. Firewood takes a year to season, or it is too green and will smoke and produce less heat.

In most cases, having 2-3 cords of wood for winter is enough. However, if cooking and multiple stoves/furnaces are on your radar (and will be after the SHTF), then plan on 5-7 per winter. More for the rest of the year.

Firewood also has supply problems. Much of the firewood sold in urban and suburban areas comes from part time cutters who get their wood from either designated stands of trees or from tree cutting operations. The type and availability of wood varies from location to location. There can be wood shortages - so buy early and deep.

Winter is blowing hard in the northeast this week (March!). Imagine what it will be like when we have regular brownouts next year and shortages out the wazoo? Plan on getting your own wood burning furnace, more firewood for the fireplace and perhaps even a wood burning stove now and not until it is too late.

Chickens -

Here is a subject near and dear to me. I eat a lot of eggs and chicken is the meat of choice for me. Almost anyone can raise chickens and often, they can be raised even in urban and suburban areas.

This website, Backyard Chickens, is a great place to start. Lots of good practical information and forums to ask questions about raising chickens.

My wife is reluctant to get even a few for eggs, but I will keep at it.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Prepare: Grocery shopping, rural property, tip of the day

Hope you had a good weekend. We are in the equivalent of 1930, Depression-wise which means the stock market has already fallen and bank failures are right around the corner. Let's not become Okies, ok?

Grocery shopping -

Too many family activities this weekend, so I went grocery shopping early this AM (Monday). There were few people in the store that day and time (good) and plenty of things to choose from (better).

Here is what I purchased:

Milk 2 gallons
Bread 2 loaves
Cheese 2 blocks
Cheese 1 bag shredded
Cottage cheese
3 lbs ground hamburger
1 pack bacon
1 pack baloney
2 boxes cereal
2 boxes granola
36 eggs (2 18ct)
cat litter
dog food
4 large bags frozen vegetables
Large plain yogurt
3 lbs butter

Produce will come from a farmers market type grocer down the street. The prices are better and the produce is very nice.

We already have several hundred pounds of rice, flour, sugar, salt, etc. on hand as well as many cans of basics. I picked up 40 lbs of potatoes and onions each this weekend.

Notice about the above list: There are no frozen meals (like pizza or lasagna), no sodas, no sweets (like ice cream or cookies). Only basic components to build breakfast, lunch (especially for school kids) and dinners.

Also, there is little meat. We use eggs for most of our protein and big meat, like steak, chicken or pork, is only a couple of times a week. Simply put, we don't want to go into debt for a single meal of steak or a roast chicken.

By using basics, like rice, at home, we can make filling and healthy meals every day.

This is our frugal diet in our home and we eat well. Needless to say, we don't eat out either.

Rural property -

Friday night my wife mentioned a friend from high school who grew up in a small town north east of where we live. Then the wife says how much she would like to drive out to this small town. Then the kicker; wife says she would love to live in this town if it is still the same as she remembers it.

So I grab the laptop and bingo! The town is about 10,000 souls total and 100 miles from our home.
A real estate page shows two perfect homes in our price range; one with 5.2 acres and another with 8 acres. One of the homes is relatively new and has a well, barn and multiple trees on the property.

Realistically, we are two years from making this move, but we are driving out in a couple of weeks to get a feel for the land and town.

My wife's reason for bringing this up: she is tired of living in our city (1million), the rat race, wants to be self sufficient, no longer trust the government, worried about our kids, etc. The usual litany which brings the DGI over to our side. I am a happy guy. It pays to be patient.

Tip of the day -

Have cats? Use cat litter? Do you purchase the plastic containers with the handle? Those containers have lots of uses. Now, I would not fill them with water for myself to drink, but I do use them for water storage. This weekend, I punched a dozen holes in the lid and now have a new watering can. Pretty neat, huh?

We are in tough times. You should be prepared or working on it every chance you get. Get busy, its going to be a bumpy ride.

Good luck,

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