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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Friendly Bandits

Most of us that write for the preparedness blogs touch on the same subjects over a period of time. We extol the virtues of having water, food, fuel, and defensive measures. You can not have too much in storage. You can not predict how long an event might last, how many folks will show up looking for support, or if you will even be able to reach your supplies. A flood or a fire can wipe out everything you have worked years for also. I recently discovered another way I was losing supplies; I had a case of friendly bandits.
The first time I noticed I had been raided is when I went out to the barn to fill the tractor so I could mow the lawn. I should probably remind you that I store my emergency gas supplies in cans in the barn. The cans range from 6 gallons to one gallon. I date each can when I fill them and I use them up from oldest first. They get cycled through in about every two years. Once emptied a can is placed on the floor with the date tape removed so I can fill them when prices dip. Since we had had a price dip a while back all the cans were filled and ready, or so I thought.
I grabbed the oldest five gallon can off the shelf and it was empty. Oh crap I thought, I had a leaky can. I grabbed the next oldest can and it was empty too! Before I was done I had four empty cans. I was down twenty gallons of gas and prices have just jumped. I was pissed.
While I mowed the lawn I kept going over it in my mind and decided that all the cans didn’t leak. I asked the family and my oldest son confessed that he had a bad case of the “shorts” and filled his car with the oldest gas. I didn’t care that he used the gas. I use some too when I have the shorts. What bothered me was that he didn’t tell me so I could refill them when prices were low. It also left me with a false sense that I have more stored fuel than I really did.
When we moved back to the farm I put a shelf in the basement for paper products. I loaded the thing with paper towels, paper plates, napkins, and some toilet paper. When loading the paper towel rolls I noticed that the price on the rolls jumped ten cents at a time and I started at 49 cents a roll and ended at .99. It reminded me that if you buy a lot of bulk early on you save a lot of money long term.
A few weeks ago I saw my wife had bought some paper towels. It made me realize that I had not seen her buy any before. I checked the basement and all the paper towels were gone. Over the last few years my wife used up all the stored supplies and was just now buying a few at a time. Once again what I thought was a nice inventory of a much needed supply was not at all there.
It has always been difficult to get my wife to see that she needs to keep supplies up. She figures we are saving a ton of money using up stuff we already have. We don’t fight tooth and nail over prepping, but she doesn’t see the same future that I do. I will have to be the one that goes out someday and buys a large number of towels and puts them someplace where I can get them when the emergency happens.
Over the last year I have used up one of my cans of Coleman fuel and not replaced it. I mentioned before that my kerosene has been used up over the last few deer seasons and not replaced too. Even I am guilty of using supplies and not replacing them.
While you may have really good preparedness and solid plans in place, make sure that you keep a finger on the pulse of your supplies or like me; you may find you have lost some things to friendly bandits.
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Friday, November 18, 2011


I am a packrat. My wife has informed me of this fact on a regular basis over the last thirty years. Still, I like the fact I can go out to the barn and look up some old stuff from years gone by and make sure my memory is correct. I also enjoy stumbling across a box of old magazines and re-reading some of the stories. I recently found a pile of True magazines from the late 1960s. There was a long article about Euell Gibbons in it and how he hunts wild food. I made a copy of the article and shared it with Tonto. Thirty year old info is still good today.

Toolman and I share a collection of the early Mother Earth News magazines. There are a lot of useful article in them about home made equipment and how to about raising your own crops and animals. A lot of this info might be needed if we go into a long term TEOTWAWKI situation. Toolman dropped them off the other day. He is cleaning out some stuff in the house and needed to move them here. They will go on the shelf in the barn with the old issues of Backwoodsman, Countryside, Backwoods Home, Backhome, and a few others. All of these magazines hold very useful information that might come in handy down the road. I like to store these old magazines because they are EMP proof. Also, I may not be able to remember all I need to on a subject or I might not even care about raising chickens right now but will if they become critical to survival. I can then go back and read up on them.

If you read the blogs long enough you will see most of us post about books and reading martial every few months or so. That is because they are important to long term survival. I probably will not be around to help out the grandkids if we can keep from sliding over the edge for another decade. However, the supply of books and magazines I have left behind just may help insure my family’s survivability multi-generationally. If all that takes is for me to be a packrat, so be it.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Spending a Saturday Prepping, Sort of

Toolman, Tonto, and I escaped responsibilities Saturday and we loaded up and went to a pair of gunshows, a Fiber show and did some shopping. It was the first time we have all been together in a while. It was too bad E couldn’t join us.

We hit the first gun show and what we discovered was prices where up again. One example I can give is this. My Dad’s deer rifle was a Winchester ’94 in .32 Winchester Special. It is now the gun my son uses for deer hunting. It is not that common a caliber and when ever I see some at a cheap price I buy it. I picked up a couple of boxes for $15 three years ago and Two years ago I found it for $18 a box. This gun show I saw it from $22 to $28 and a couple older boxes were marked higher for their “collector value”.

Tonto wanted to pick up some extra magazines for one of his sidearm’s and the only one he found the guy wasn’t $30 for it and could not guarantee that it would work in Tonto’s model. Toolman could not find the items on his list at any price. I saw some very rough, rusted, ammo cans fro $5 each, the kind we used to pay a buck for. I did find a half box of .30-30 rounds for $3 which I thought was ok.

One booth had a lot of books that would be of interest to anyone building a survival library. Three different Country Wisdom volumes, several books on raising livestock and some on butchering said livestock. Another booth had a nice array of medical supplies that might be good to have for TEOTWAWKI. Gunshows still are great places for finding gear; just realize that prices are going up all the time.

We stopped at Dunham’s to look for a couple items. I found a box of .22s on sale for $17. That is the cheapest I have seen on a brick of .22s in a long while so I bought one. I noticed one lone box of M-1 carbine ammo and I picked it up. I about fell over looking at the price. I showed Tonto and his jaw dropped. Toolman came over and had the same jaw dropping reaction. Forty-five dollars a box!

Next door to the second gun show was a “Fiber Show”. We had no idea what a fiber show was and decided to walk over and check it our. Toolman opted to stay in the van and eat a polish dog so Tonto and I walked over. There was no charge to walk through so we did. There were a lot of animals there, each which produced a nice fur for yarn. Tonto explained that his girlfriend has a sweater and pair of socks made from alpaca yarn and she just loves it. He was half looking for another pair of socks for her. The highlight of the show for us was the camel they had on display. Tonto and I got to pet the camel. I asked the guy that was controlling the thing if he ever rode the camel. He said he rode it a lot. I asked him if that made him a camel jockey. Some woman standing there whirled around and gave me a dirty look, not appreciating my joke. Oh well, Tonto laughed.

We did find that there are a lot of different models of spinning wheels and saw the possibilities of spinning yarn and making clothes as a barter item especially after TEOTWAWKI. We didn’t spend enough time there to really get a clear picture of what the fiber show was about and probably need to look into it more

After the gun shows and fiber show we returned to the farm and Toolman brought out his new Ruger LRC in .357. He had an accident at work and with his hand in a cast he could not cock the slide on his semi-auto so he got the little Ruger to carry. We all managed to punch some holes in the target with it and Tonto said that the stainless model had much better control than the aluminum model he shoot a couple weeks ago at the range.

It was nice for all of us to get together again even if it was only for a short time spending a Saturday prepping, sort of.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Alternate Plans for Staying Warm

I will admit that over the last month or so I have not had preparedness at the forefront of my mind. I was enjoying the fall days and busying myself with small things like trapping animals for my mother-in-law and reviewing old articles on prepping. Last Sunday my wife and I sat watching the news and saw the tons of snow that was dumped on New England and my wife turned to me and stated she sure was glad that didn’t happen here. It sort of jotted me that indeed it could happen here and I had not set up several of my back up plans for staying warm in a power outage.

I have written several times in the past about the PACE system for preparedness. I first heard it referred to as PACE over on Joe’s Viking Preparedness blog which for some sad reason he seems to have burned out on and no longer posts. Anyway, PACE is an acronym for Primary, Alternate, Contingent, and Emergency. It is a layers system of plans for any part of an operation. It was refined by Special Forces but has been around in many forms for years. Our family had the “One’s good, two’s better and Three’s is about right” plan for as long as I can remember.

A couple quick examples would be lighting, Primary, throw the switch, Alternate, propane lantern, Contingent, kerosene lantern, and Emergency, candles. For water you plan might run something like, draw from well, used stored bottle water, filter rain water, and boil any water you can find. I think that gives you the idea.

Since I live in Michigan and it gets a mite chilly from time to time I have in place a PACE system for heating. Now, this is not the plan I want to eventually have, but it is the one I have now. Like many of you, I dream of the day I can pick up a good woodburning stove that will heat and let me cook on it. Until that day arrives that is not an option and my plans need to reflect my reality.

My primary heat is my furnace which runs on propane. My wife and I have been fortunate enough to pre-pay for our propane the last few winters so we can count on it being full most of the time. If we lose power for a long term reason I have a generator I can hook up to the power and make sure the furnace works.

My alternate heat is still the propane, but what will happen is my wife, myself, and the dogs will cocoon down to the family room and heat it with the gas fireplace. It keeps that room warm and we can stay in there for most of the time we need to. Our kitchen is in the opposite corner of the fireplace and if it gets real cold in there we can turn the burners of the stove on and heat both corners making the room nice and toasty.

Years ago when we lived in the city my wife and I heated the house with kerosene. We found it kept the place nice and warm and since we bought kerosene as we used it the large heating bill from the gas company never showed up. We kept that heater and that is our Contingency plan for keeping warm. To be honest with you, right now my kerosene stores are way down and we would not be able to heat for a long period of time before we drop to our Emergency plan. We have not replaced the kerosene we used while deer hunting the last few years because I keep waiting for the price to come down. When we lived in the city K-1 kerosene was just under $2 a gallon. It is now double that and I keep hoping it will come down. Tonto and I have several places we check the price on and share the info. Now that I have my gas storage completed I hope to at least buy several more can full’s of K-1 for the future.

As an aside, several years ago I stopped at an Amish farm and asked the folks how much kerosene they used in a years time. The guy told me that they used about a hundred gallons for lighting and cooking. They use a kerosene stove during the summer for cooking on. They do not heat with kerosene so you can guess that you would need several hundred gallons stored away for heating and lighting.

Our gas fireplace can be converted to a wood burning fireplace with an hour’s work and a few tools. Once I fill the heater with the last gallon of kerosene I will be converting the fireplace over and we will then be heating with out Emergency plan.

As a guy I work with once told me, “It is easier to get warm than it is to get cool”. Staying warm in the dead of winter can be easier than cooling off in the ninety degree heat of summer. If you come into a room from the outside when it is well below freezing even a 50 degree room is warm.

I am sure that you have heard that the experts have all predicted that this will be a really bad winter with lots of cold and snow. If they are correct than now is the time to make sure you have some alternate plans for staying warm.

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