Homesteading and Survivalism

Living a simple life

Month: March 2010

Survival camp example

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The worse has happened – some kind of pandemic disease is whipping out mankind, or a nuke strike has launched this nation in chaos, or something else has happened.

You now have to leave the city. So, where do you go? Some emergencies are regional – such as a hurricane or wild fires. So staying with friends or family might be an option.

For the sake of this article, lets discuss this topic as if its world wide. So now what do you do?

First – Shelter:
You and your family will need somewhere to go. Try to find somewhere you can have a roof over your head, and not just a tent.

Before the event – in the preparing stage:
Find a friend or family member that has some land and talk to them about staying at their location. Talk to this friend/family member about leasing a small section of this land. One option is paying that family member enough money to cover part of the property taxes – this works to the advantage for both of you.

Check the local news papers. Sometimes people will put a “to be moved” house in the classifieds. These houses will need to be moved, they are usually on blocks and will usually need some repairs. You will need several thousand dollars on hand to move the house, so have that put up. Talk to the friend/family member about moving the house on their property. At first they will be resistant, so expect a “NO!!” answer. Explain to the friend/family member that if you leave or give up the “lease” they can keep the house. This can be a double edged sword – so be very, very careful.


Are you a prepper or a survivalist

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My opinion – preppers and survivalist are not the same thing, there is a big difference.

Preppers – get into survivalism because its the “cool” thing to be doing. “Oh look at me, I have 2 – 3 months of stockpiled food.” They might have gone down to the local store and bought 50 pounds of rice and beans, a couple of flashlights and all of a sudden their a “prepper”.

They might be a prepper, but their a long way from being a survivalist.

Some preppers are attention whores – “Look at me, look at me,,, I live in my mansion and I have a bunch of rice and beans and a flashlight.”  These are the ones that like to show off for the news media friends, family and neighbors.

A real survivalist does not show off.  When SHTF we do not want hordes of people knocking on our door.  They know you have preps.  After all, you preppers showed off everything you have to impress your friends.

Well guess what, after a disaster those same “friends” you showed off to know everything that you have.  And if they are hungry enough, they will come get your “preps”.

Ever hear of the term “loose lips sink ships”?  That is the motto that a lot of survivalist live by.

Survivalist – I know where and what my preps are, and you do not need to know jack. We plan, we think, we survey the situation. To us, “prepping” as you call it, is a lifestyle.

To me – prepping is a waste of time, its a joke, its a fad, its the “hot topic of the day”.  In another month or two, “preppers” will move onto the next fad or hot topic.  To a real survivalist, prepping is a lifestyle.

The difference between a prepper and a survivalist, is like brushing your teeth in the morning.

Prepper – goes to work and shows his teeth to everyone.  Then they brag how he/she brushed their teeth before they went to work.

Survivalist – I thought everyone brushed their teeth before they went to work in the morning, so what is the big deal?

Either your in, or your out, there is no middle ground. Either your a survivalist or your not.

Then there are the closest survivalist, the ones that do not want to come out of the closest and say “Yea, I’am a survivalist”. This is mainly because of the stigma that goes along with the word “survivalist”.

If your a survivalist – then stand up straight, hold your head up and proudly say “I’am a survivalist”. And stop using that sissy word “prepper”.

Post your comments in the preppers set for disaster thread of the forum.

Fruit trees and the urban survivalist

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Fruit trees are the friend of the urban survivalist. Unlike a garden, you do not have to replant the fruit tree every year, during the spring your neighbors will be jealous of the beautiful blooms, dwarf fruit trees can be planted just about anywhere, and some types of fruit trees are high producers. Meaning, that with just 1 or 2 trees, your family should be able to put up plenty of preserves.

Some types of dwarfs may not get 8 feet tall and might be something good to plant in the corners of your fence. If you have a fence in your backyard, what do you have planted in the corners right now anyway? Planting the fruit tree across the back fence might provide it with more sun light, as compared to planting it between the houses.

Over the past few years I have made it a point to plant some fruit trees. Some of the types I have planted include peach, plum, apple, and a fig tree.

When picking the different types of trees that you want to plant, take into consideration when the fruit is ready to be picked. I like to plant different types of trees so that the fruit ripens at different times. One might ripen in July, another might ripen in August, and another might ripen in September. This gives me time to preserve the fruit. Even if I do not preserve the fruit, having the fruit ripen at different times spreads out my food supply.

While planting the peach trees, I used miracle grow organic potting soil and some miracle grow plant food. The plant food said it was 10-10-10 with a little extra sulfur mixed in.

I thought about throwing some nuts, bolts or nails in the hole before the tree is set in. That way the tree has a source of trace minerals will will take a long time to break down. This was not done during the 2007, 2008 0r 2009 planting season, but I might do it this year. There are some 3/4 inch round bar rods at the camp. I though about cutting some pieces off of those bars – say about 2 – 3 inches long – and putting the bar under the tree. It might take those bars decades to break down all the way where there is nothing left

In 2008 I spread some 13-13-13 fertilizer around a peach tree in the spring. We were “supposed” to get some rain to help was the fertilizer in. We did not get the rain and the tree died. I think I put too much fertilizer around the tree. So in the spring of 2010, I’am going easy with the fertilizer.

Post your comments in this forum thread about fruit trees.

Fuel lines after a disaster

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As soon as the public gets information that a disaster is looming, people go into panic buying mode. Expect food, bottled water, camping supplies, bread, snacks, camp stoves, charcoal,,,,, well, if its on the shelf, expect people to buy it.

There is one thing that is sold out very quickly, and that is fuel. Before you know it the fuel lines are out to the street, and tempers start to flare.

This video was taken after hurricane Ike hit southeast Texas. People were blocking the roads so other traffic was not able to get through. I did not see any road rage, but its very possible it did happen.

Floods from nautral disasters

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This is the intersection of HWY 87 and chemical road, which is between Orange and Bridge City, Texas. 2 major intersections which were blocked by debris and water from Hurricane Ike. Keep in mind, this intersection is about 20 inland from the Gulf of Mexico.

As far as anyone could remember, this part of Orange County, Texas had never flooded – at least not this bad anyway.  When Hurricane Ike pushed the storm surge into the communities of Southeast Texas, a lot of people were caught unprepared.  An unknown number of people did not have flood insurance, mainly because the area where they live had never flooded.

Some of the lessons learned:

You can not protect your house against something like a hurricane. What you do, is make sure you have plenty of insurance, both flood and home owners.

My mom and dad will be ok. They have home owners and flood insurance. For the most part they will recover.

My brother had flood insurance, but nothing on the contents. Meaning he lost everything in his house with 4 – 5 feet of water.

My buddy did not have any flood insurance. He got about 2 feet of water in his house and has lost almost everything.

To protect your family and your property, have a fall back position. My family used my house as such a location. They had a safe place to stay, instead of sleeping in hotels and spending a small fortune on rooms and food.

When the local authorities call for an evacuation, heed those warnings, pack up your stuff and leave.  Property can be replaced, lives can not.

3 day bug out test

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Back in July of 2008, (July 4th weekend to be exact), my family and I went up to the deer camp.  While the kids were having fun playing in the creek, I was taking notes.   To my family it was just a relaxing weekend.  To me, it was time to test some stuff and take notes.

Infant Formula / baby food:  While we were at the camp my step daughter ran out of powdered formula. Its no big deal, we just drove the 15 – 20 miles back to town. On the flip side, what if we could not make the trip? What if there was no store with baby food stocks?

After hurricanes and other natural disasters food shipments are disrupted, this includes baby food.

Joe is at the age were he can eat real food from our table. If we were not able to get formula, he would have had to eat from his mothers plate.

Cooking:  This was no big deal. I pulled the pit to the camp and smoked 2 briskets over night, for about 12 hours. Then the next morning I put 2 racks of ribs on. Along with some beans, and corn on the cob. You talk about GOOD!!!! My stepsons truck in the background. We also cooked a pcakge of chicken legs.

Cold Food: One of my investments is a Coleman 100 Quart extreme 5 day cooler. When we left home thursday my wife got 3 bags of ice for the ice chest. Sunday evening the water was still cold. We had ice until saturday evening – and this was with the kids getting soft drinks out for 3 days. Currently I am considering a 7 day coleman extreme ice chest, with at least 100 quarts in size.

Once the food has been cooked, it can be stored in the ice chest to keep it warm. For this purpose a Coleman 7 day extreme 54 quart would be good.

This would have given us about a weeks head start on planting the crops if this would have been a real SHTF situation.


Fuel storage

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Here is what I store most of my fuel in. These drums hold 16 gallons each, but I only fill them with 15 gallons of fuel.

The first thing people usually say – your not supposed to store fuel in plastic. Ok, then what about the plastic 5 gallon gas cans from the local hardware store? Those are made out of plastic.

Currently I have about 8 – 10 gallons of kerosene, and about 20 gallons of gasoline stored up.

In 2008 I went down and bought 15 gallons of kerosene, this drum was perfect for storing that amount of fuel. The drum weighed about 100 pounds, so it was still movable, but required a little force.

Another consideration – how much fuel do you really need? My truck as a 20 gallon gas tank, each of those blue drums holds 16 gallons. So when my truck reaches less then a 1/4 tank, its time to pull over an fill back up.

To pump the fuel from the drum to my truck I have a plastic hand operated, squeeze bulb pump. My truck will go about 400 miles on a tank of gas, so with 2 of these blue drums, I will have about a 1100 – 1200 mile range. That mileage does not count sitting in line trying to get out of an area. During the evacuation of Houston for hurricane Rita, people went through 2 tanks of gas just sitting in line.

For my generator, I get about 9 hours of run time on a full tank of gas, which is about 5 – 6 gallons (I do not remember). So I should be able to get 5 days (?) of run time for my freezer, running one hour out of every 3 or 4 hours? I have not done the exact math – that is what the (?) is for because I am not 100% sure.

Post your comments in this forum thread about fuel storage.

What groups would survive

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Through out history its been shown that certain social groups are more likely to survive then other groups

The rich – the rich have been able to move outside the affected areas, or have been able to buy the resources that they needed. During the black death of 1348 – 1350, the rich secluded themselves to their estates, or went to one of their estates outside the affected areas.

From the protection of their land and homes, the rich would be able to hire servants to buy food and other items. There was no need for the rich to go to town, they could just pay other people to do it for them. Thus reducing their exposure to the infected public.

Land owners could have herds of cows, horses, goats and other farm animals.  The people with money may also own private property to hunt on, thus providing them with a source of wild game – deer, hogs, turkeys and other wild meat.

The farmers and gardeners – which I like to call the “Back to Basics Group”, they should do well – anyone that can raise their own food, have their own livestock, chickens, rabbits, milk goats,,,,, anything that can provide them with food and trade items.

The goats, cows, chickens,,, provide the farmers with a steady supply of trade items – through milk, eggs, meat or just trading/selling the whole animal.

The poor – are usually the worst hit. These are the people who can not afford to move, least portable, can not afford their own land, and have no resources to pull from.

Through out history, the poor have been the worst hit.  Even in recent times, the poor who can not afford insurance are the most affected when a natural disaster comes along.  When a hurricane or flood comes along, its the poor that usually does not have insurance.

The middle class – should do well in short term disasters, such as floods and hurricanes.  This is the group that is somewhat portable, may have flood or homeowners insurance, may have some food stocks put up.  But the middle class may not do so well in a long term disaster – such as a long lasting out of disease.

In a long lasting disaster – such as a disease outbreak, the preps that the middle class will quickly run out.

Some middle class people may own land that they can go live on, but a lot do not.

Post your comments in the what groups will survive a what groups would survive a SHTF situation thread of the forums.

Rotating your seed stockpile

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One of the questions that is asked a lot on the forums, is how long will seeds stay good? One example to the answer of that question is the Doomsday Seed Vault. This seed vault is designed to keep seeds frozen for centuries.  Some types of seeds will stay good for decades.  While other types of seeds can stay good for hundreds of years – if kept frozen.

Even though seeds can stay viable for a long time if frozen, I still take the time to rotate out my seed stock.

A lot of the seeds in my stocks are cucumbers, peas, snap beans, corn, squash, radishes, and zucchini – especially squash and zucchini.   That is because they are easy to grow and  somewhat disease resistant. Snap beans, cucumbers and zucchini can by high producing plants.

In the spring of 2008 my wife and I planted a couple of rows of snap beans.  These rows were maybe 10 – 15 feet long. We got around a 5 gallon bucket out of just short row. Keep in mind that the 10 foot row produced food for over a month and had to be picked every couple of days.

On my trips to the local feed and fertilizer store I will buy anywhere from 1/2 a pound to a full pound of pea and bean seeds. Right now I probably have about 6 pounds of beans and pea seeds. Some of these seeds are 3 – 4 years old.

Here are some suggestions on rotating out your seed stocks:

1.  Plant the seeds at the deer lease to feed the wildlife. When a doe gives birth to a fawn, this is a bad time of year. The spring and summer foliage has not yet fully bloomed, so sometimes there is a shortage of food. During this time I usually have several deer feeders going throwing corn once a day. This usually goes on through at least May or June.

2.  Start a community garden with your friends and relatives.  Take the seeds out of your stocks, use them to plant the community garden, and then re-buy fresh seed.

3.  Give them away.  Know someone plating a garden, share your old seeds with them.

4.  Move the seeds to the bug out location.  If your place has a freezer, store the seeds in the freezer so that you will have a secondary stockpile.

Comments can be posted in this forum thread about rotating your seed stockpile.

Pecan trees

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Years ago, homesteads would have pecan trees planted rows in various places around the farm.  Now these trees are reduced to a rarity. If you see an empty field, with a bunch of old pecan trees planted in rows, chances are an old homestead used to be there years ago. The old timers would collect the pecans and eat then through the winter. These are an excellent long lasting, easily store able food.

If you ever eat a fresh pecan, you will realize how nasty the packaged pecans from the store really are. Home made pecan pie is hard to beat. Well, you can not beat it.

The pecans have started falling, so its time to pick em and put em up. The pecan grows inside of a larger shell. The shell splits open and the pecan will fall out.

These pictures were taken at a local fair. The county court house (where the fair was held) has close to 2 dozen big pecan trees around it.

Fertilize pecan trees in the early spring with 13-13-13 around the outside edge of the limbs – also known as the “Drip Line.” Or spread some manure around the drip line instead of commercial fertilizer.

Post your comments in this forum thread about Pecan Trees.

Move on you have enough gas

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This is a real story, as it was told to me. As far as I know it based on actual events.

Location – Lufkin, Texas
Date – a couple of days after Hurricane Rita passed through.

The story – this guy was at a gas station filling up several 55 gallon drums. Gasoline was already in short supply. Before Hurricane Rita made landfall, Houston, Texas had evacuated. As the people from Houston passed through the small towns of East Texas, they were like locust, cleaning out the resources of the small towns – such as food, hotel rooms, bottled water and gasoline.

Someone walks over to the guy, pulls out a pistol, points it at him, and says “you have enough gas, move on.”

Who is in the right and who is in the wrong?

Was the guy hogging more then his fair share of fuel?
Did he need that much fuel?
Was he bringing the gasoline to people further south in the Hurricane affected areas?
Did he have a special needs person and needed the fueul for a generator?
Was the guy with the gun in the wrong for forcing the other person to move on?

Some of the gas stations in Lufkin started rationing fuel – cars were only allowed to get 45 dollars worth of fuel and then they had to move on.  At time, gas cost 2.99 a gallon, so $45 of gas at the time was not much. Some of the gas stations had police officers at them to ensure peace and order.

Post your comments in this thread at the Hurricane Survival Forums.

Coleman Perfectflow Stove

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Coleman Perfectflow StoveIt was the Sunday morning of the opening weekend of Spring Break 2010. My wife and I got up, setup the 15+ year old Coleman stove and started to cook breakfast. For its age, the stove was doing good, but it was just cooking a little slow. In all, we had about 8 hungry people standing around waiting on their food.

My buddy Lynn made the comment that he had a new propane Coleman stove that he wanted to try out. The conversation went something like this:

Kevin – Watching the bacon cook on the stove.
Lynn – I have a new stove I wold like to try out.
Kevin – Break it out then, this one is taking too long.
Lynn – Well, I did not want to step on your manhood.
Kevin – I’am hungry, get that stove out so we can cook faster.

So Lynn walked over to his SUV, got a brand new Coleman Perfectflow Stove out of the back, and set it up. Within minutes we had bacon, boudain, sausage and eggs cooking.

Coleman Perfectflow StoveTo be able to cook a lot of bacon at one time, we put a griddle on top of the grill.  The griddle fit pretty good, and we were able to cook about 17 – 18 pieces of bacon at one time.  The griddle got so hot, it started melting the plastic fork that we were using.  So its advised that you use metal utensils when cooking with the Coleman Perfectflow Stove.  Because this thing can get really hot real quick – if not a little too hot.

The griddle was also used to cook the sausage and boudain.  I think the griddle might have been a “little” too hot for the boudain; it seemed to have scorched the casing a little bit too fast, while leaving the inside of the boudain a little cold.

When the sausage was cooked, it was cut in half and each half put on the griddle.  The stove made quick work of the sausage – it was cooked in a matter of minutes.

When we got ready to cook the eggs, the griddle was removed and a skillet was used.

Overall, I was impressed with how fast, quick and easy the stove cooked breakfast for about 8 people.  But it seemed to cook a little too hot.  If the fuel was turned down too low, the flame went out.   It would have been nice to see a simmer setting on the stove for keeping stuff like coffee hot.

Another version of the Coleman Perfectflow Stove is supposed to have an electric start. This model did not have the electric start, so we had to use matches.

Now I know what to ask for for fathers day.  This sure beats my 15 year old liquid fuel Coleman stove.  The liquid fuel stove does a good job, it just cooks a little slow, and the tank has to be kept pumped up.

Please post your comments in this forum thread about the Coleman Perfectflow Stove.

On a personal note, I have been using some type of Coleman stove for over 15 years.  Whether its a single burner propane backpacking / hiking stove, or a dual burner liquid stove, Coleman stoves have always given outstanding performance.

Some bug out plans

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Bugging out of a major city sounds a lot easier then it actually is. Chances are the gas stations are going to be empty, and the roads are going to be packed. One of the keys to getting out a city safely, is to either leave early or leave late. But either way, try to get ahead of, or behind the mad rush.

Fuel/Gasoline – having enough fuel to get out will be the first problem. At the first sign of trouble, people are going to make a mad rush to the gas stations and fill up not only their cars and trucks, but every gas can they have. As a hurricane is approaching the Gulf Coast, its not uncommon to see people filling up 55 gallon drums of gasoline.

Maps – the stores will be sold out before you get there. Next time you see a road map of your area go ahead and pick a couple up. Keep a couple of different maps in each car/truck that you own.

Food and water along the bug out route – a lot of people pack clothes, toys, DVD players, even TV’s and other non survival items instead of food and water. Have enough food and water for everyone for at least 4 days. Go ahead and invest some money into some good quality ice chest, like some 5 day extreme Igloo ice chest.

Having a place to go – Most people leave, and have no clue where they are going. Most find themselves out of money and sleeping in their cars rather quickly. Months after the disaster is over, people will still be paying off the credit cards from the hotels and buying food.

Bring tents, sleeping bags, blankets and pillows – If you and your family are unable to find a hotel/motel then maybe you can camp in a state / national park – hey its better then nothing. Sometimes churches outside the affected areas will setup shelters. To make things feel more at home, bring your own blankets and pillows.  Shelters may not have enough blankets for everyone, so its good to have your own.

Have a way to cook – bring a portable grill. Even if you have to use twigs and sticks from a road side park, its still a way to cook. A portable grill and the hot meals it provides can be a real morale booster. A single burner stove does not take up a lot of room, and it can provide a good hot meal.

Keep a couple of frozen one gallon bottles of water in the deep freezer. These can take a day or two to thaw out and will keep your food cold longer then a bag of ice. Plus you can drink the water once it thaws. Having your own ice will be nice when the stores are sold out.

Hand sanitizer and toilet paper – bring plenty of both. Chances are the rest areas along the route will be out of toilet paper and soap.

Post your comments in this thread about evacuation strategies in the forum.

Survivalist Water Filter Options

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Why should Survivalist worry about water filters?  Because when the city water supply stops, the water in the local lakes and streams may not be safe to drink. Most survivalist have stockpiled water, and that is fine – there is nothing wrong with stockpiling water. But you need some kind of solution for after your stockpiles of water run out. A lot of people might say “I’ll just dig a well if I need water” – ok, lets get back to reality. Most of people are not going to dig a well overnight.

Here is short list of waterborne diseases and parasites:
E. Coli
Legionnaires’ disease

The first filter for us to look at is the Royal Berkey.  The Royal Berkey water filter is made out of 304 stainless steel, has a capacity of approximately 3.25 Gallons, and has 2 filters (with each filter being able to filter an estimated 3,000 gallons of water).

Assembly of the Royal Berkey is pretty easy, and only takes about 10 – 15 minutes. The thing with stainless steel, you can leave it stored at a retreat for years, and not worry about mice or rats chewing holes through it. One of the problems with storing items at a retreat is rats and mice will chew into it. I have no idea how much food has been ruined at the camp because of rodents.

The next filter to take a look at is the Berkey Light water filter. Instead of being made out of stainless like the Royal Berkey, this one is made out of plastic, Plastic has its advantages, such as being light and easy to transport.

One disadvantage to plastic, rodents can chew holes through it. So if you have a problem with rodents at the retreat, then you might want to go with stainless.


On the topic of handcrank flashlights

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Lets talk about handcrank flashlights for a little bit. This topic might have been discussed a lot, but its good to have a refresher.

Over the past few years I have been trying to stock up on those hand crank flashlights and lanterns. But instead of having a bunch of them at my home (which I do), I have been bringing some of them to “the camp”.

When my family and I go to the camp, sometimes its after dark when we get there. After we arrive, I will grab a flashlight to go turn on the propane. I do not want to have to worry about dead batteries in the flashlight.

There have been a few time that thunder storms have knocked out power at the camp. I do not like looking around for extra batteries in the dark – especially when we have mouse traps set out.

Its very convent to grab a flashlight, shake or give it a couple of twist, and you have instant light.

Here is one of the issues, it might be 2 – 4 months between trips to the camp. That gives the batteries in the flashlights a long time to go dead.

Also, if you leave those cheap batteries in your flashlights -the ones that leak acid – your gear can be ruined before you know it. Just the other day I found an AM/FM radio that the batteries had leaked in and ruined the device. The radio was a cheap one, so its not a lot of money lost, but it is a piece of equipment that will need to be replaced.

I have heard of long term storage batteries, ones that you can keep stored for decades,,,, but why? I see no real reason to invest in stuff like that. They are going to go dead after you put them in the flashlight anyway.

The crank flashlights make good hand outs to the kids. If the light gets set down and the batteries go dead, just give it a few shakes or twist. This past weekend while on a camping trip with my daughter, I gave her a twist flashlight to keep in her tent with her. I told her to twist the end to charge it up, and she was like “ok, no problem.”


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