Thursday, July 17, 2014

Get your church involved in prepping

Let me start by quickly addressing the question of should churches be involved in prepping, or anything other than worship for that matter. The biblical answer is yes, in my opinion. After all, church isn't something that was intended to be confined only to the four walls of a building on Sunday mornings. Church, as it is shown in the New Testament, is a community of believers that transcends buildings and time slots. The New Testament churches didn't just worship together, they loved one another and helped each other.

Christians are a family. We often call each other "brothers and sisters" even when we are not related by blood or marriage. Jesus has taught us to love one another, to help one another. This is what I mean when I suggest churches get involved in prepping - that we help each other as we struggle to survive tough times that may lie ahead. It is the Christian thing to do.


The wise store up choice food and olive oil,
    but fools gulp theirs down. -- Proverbs 21:20


Much more can be said about this, but it is not my intention to "preach" a sermon at this time. Instead, I will jump straight to my suggestions on how churches can be centers of prepping:

1) Start Talking About the Need for Prepping - You don't even have to call it "prepping." Emergency or disaster preparedness are legitimate names for what we do, and may be more acceptable to your fellow church members. Still, the important thing is to get people thinking and talking about preparedness.

A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. 
The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. -- Proverbs 22:3

2) Community Gardening - If your church has, or can get access to, some land, then start a community gardening program. There are many ways this can be done, from one massive garden that everyone works and shares its harvest, to individuals & families being provided smaller plots to garden as they see fit. The garden could be limited to church members only, or it could be opened up a larger community. The community gardening program would also provide encouragement and education to folks wanting to garden in their own yards.

3) Classes and Sessions in Food Storage and Canning - Churches could encourage and educate their members to store food. Chances are your church has a number of older members who would love to pass on their knowledge of canning and other food preservation techniques. If not, check your your local agricultural extension office.

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household,
has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. -- 1 Timothy 5:8

4) First Aid and CPR Courses - Your church could offer its members courses in first aid and CPR. You many have members already qualified to teach those courses. If not, contact your local fire department or EMS. Many will be happy to work with your church to provide first aid training.

5) Financial Courses - Encourage and educate church members on personal finances, budgeting, and becoming debt-free. There are a number of ministries which educate and encourage folks in their personal finances, and a lot of free and low-cost programs and bible studies available. Check out Dave Ramsey's website, books, and radio program. Also, Money Matters with Ken Moraif. And Crown Financial. There may be others.

6) Scout-like Youth Groups - You church could host various types of scouting and scouting-like groups, including Heritage Girls and Trail Life USA. Some denominations even have their own groups similar to these. Scouting programs, of whatever type, are a great way to young people the values and skills that will help them no matter what life throws their way.

7) Store Food and Other Supplies - A church I attended many years ago had a small room where they stored old coats & jackets, blankets, canned and dried food, baby supplies, and other similar things. These were then given to the homeless or other people in need that would show up at the church from time-to-time asking for help. Your church could do something similar - buying and storing supplies that could be distributed to either church members and/or needy folks in an emergency.

8) Preparedness Classes and Seminars - Churches could provide occasional seminars or on-going classes in preparedness. How to do this and what subjects to cover are limited only by your imagination. Your church members could also work together to buy supplies in bulk, combining your individual purchases to get the best prices possible.

9) Communications - Your church could also act as a communications hub during emergencies. Many churches already have prayer chains and other means of communications set up.

10) Prayer and Discipleship - Our country is in need of prayer. Although we were founded as a nation based on Christian principles, we are no longer a Christian nation. Chances are most of our neighbors are unchurched, many are not Christian, and some have never truly heard the Gospel message. It used to be that America took the Gospel to places that had never heard it, such as Africa and Asia. But now, America itself has become a field in need for missionary work. The Great Commission doesn't just apply to professional missionaries in the far-corners of the globe. It applies to all of us in dealing with our friends and neighbors.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
-- Matthew 28: 19, 20
What churches can do to help their members and communities prepare is in no way limited by this short list of ten things. There are many, many other possibilities, and most make terrific opportunities to reach out to the unchurched in our communities with the love of Jesus.

You can follow Tim Gamble on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TimGamble

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fall Gardening Tips

August is almost here and though the heat may be blazing, it is time to start thinking about your Fall Garden activities. Here are some tips to keep you busy over the next few months:

Grow a Fall Garden. In many places across the country, mid-August through mid-September is the time to plant your Fall Garden. Crops to consider for the Fall include lettuce, radishes, cabbage, kohlrabi, turnip greens, mustard greens, spinach, and kale.

Plant Garlic Bulbs. September is the time to plant garlic bulbs for next year. Consider planting a couple of interesting varieties from the Seed Savers Exchange.

Harvest Apples. Many areas have u-pick apple orchards. A visit to one would make for a fun and useful way to spend a Saturday afternoon. You can also visit your local farmers' market or attend one of the many small town apple festivals that are typically held in September or early October.

Pick Nuts. September through November is the time to harvest pecans and black walnuts.

Plant Trees and Shrubs. Fall is the perfect time to plant most trees and shrubs, which means it is a great time to start your forest garden featuring fruit and nut trees.

Start Composting and Improving Your Soil. See my earlier post on Improving Soil (link will take you to my old blog) with videos and links to great resources on the topic. 

Start Making Your Lasagna Garden. Now is a great time to mark off your lasagna-garden beds for next year, lay down the newspaper and use the falling leaves and yard waste in the layers.

Grow Indoor Herbs. Many herbs, such as chives, oregano, basil, mint, and rosemary, can be grown in pots indoors during the fall and winter.

Transplant Perennials. Fall is the best time to divide and transplant most perennials.

Order Seed Catalogs. Don't forget to request seed catalogs for next year from your favorite companies. You can spend the winter months thumbing through the catalogs and dreaming big dreams.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Promoting Local Agriculture

Most of the food that citizens of Western nations eat is trucked or flown in from all over the world. For many people, the piece of fruit that they will eat today is much more a world-traveler than they are. In my local grocery stores (I'm in NC) there are fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as frozen and canned goods, from places as far away as Chile, Peru, Argentina, and the Philippines.

But what if you suddenly couldn't import your community's food from all over the globe? Could your community survive on only the food produced locally? The fact is there are many reasons why you may not be able to import large quantities of food in the future - everything from peak oil and sky-rocketing energy prices to worldwide crop failures and food shortages caused by disease, drought or war.

Future disruptions in the food distribution system may be mild or severe, short- or long-term. Real food security depends on a community's ability to provide for itself.

Communities should encourage people to produce a portion of their own food. This can be done by reviving the Victory Gardens idea of the first two world wars (one of the major goals of my Modern Victory Movement). Communities should also promote local agriculture.

Ways to Encourage Local Food Production
  1. Promote the idea of Victory Gardens (both private and community-based) and food co-ops.
  2. Provide training courses in gardening and permaculture through local community colleges and agricultural extension offices.
  3. Remove unnecessary restrictions on people growing their own food (maintaining needed restrictions only to promote health & safety and prevent animal cruelty).
  4. Remove unnecessary restrictions on local farmers selling their crops to local markets (often put in place due to lobbying by big agri-business).
  5. Encourage the formation of farmers markets.
  6. Local relief organizations could provide vouchers or special debit cards for use at local farmers markets as part of their assistance programs.
  7. Tree-planting programs and local Arbor Day celebrations could include fruit and nut trees.
  8. Support programs to capture organic waste (food scraps, animal & human manure, leaves & other yard waste, agricultural waste) for composting to improve soils.

Follow Tim Gamble on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TimGamble

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Prepper's Guide to Junk Silver

It is common advice within the prepper community to have some "junk" silver as a hedge against inflation and an alternative means of exchange in case of a collapse of the dollar. This article is meant as a Prepper's Guide to Junk Silver.

Precious metals, such as gold and silver, have been widely accepted as a form of economic exchange (currency) for all of human history. Unlike paper currency, gold and silver cannot be mass "printed" by governments and therefore cannot be "devalued" by inflation or government policy. If governments try to outlaw the use of gold and silver as a means of economic exchange, even banning private ownership, its long and universally recognized history as a form of currency ensues a robust black market. Therefore, gold and silver are seen as a solid hedge against inflation, a safe storehouse of wealth, and an alternative means of economic exchange during and after any economic crisis, including the collapse of the dollar.

What is Junk Silver?  The term junk silver is a bit misleading. Coins described as junk silver are by no means "junk" and can be quite valuable due to their silver content. The term is only meant to distinguish coins with little or no collectible premium above their silver content from coins that do have a collectible premium (rare coins, higher grade coins, key dates, errors, etc.).

Junk silver coins are mostly circulated coins (which show wear) from before 1965 and which typically contain 90% silver. Most coins minted in 1965 and later contain no silver. There are a few exceptions, which are noted on the chart below.


Remember, junk silver coins are those with little or no collector premium above the silver content. Many high-grade coins, rare coins, key dates, and errors have a collectible premium, and therefore are not true "junk" silver since they may be worth considerably more than their silver content.

How much is Junk Silver worth?  The price of silver changes almost daily (actually constantly throughout the day). You can check financial websites for the current price. Or just bookmark this website (www.TimGamble.com) where you can find the price of silver (and gold, oil, and natural gas) in the upper right-hand column.

You can figure out how much you are being charged for the silver in junk 90% silver coins by applying the .715 rule (there is .715 troy ounce of silver per $1 of face value of 90% silver US coins, of any combination). First, divide the amount being asked by the face amount of the coins to get the amount being asked per $1 of face value. Then divide that amount by .715, and the result is how much per ounce of silver is being asked.

Example: Ten Washington silver quarters are being sold for $43. How much is being asked per ounce of silver? Face value being sold is $2.50 (10 X .25). Asking price of $43 divided by face value of $2.50 is $17.20, which is the amount you are paying per $1 of face value. $17.20 divided by .715 is $24.06. Therefore, you would be paying $24.06 per ounce of silver.

Please note that the .715 rule doesn't work with war nickels, 40% Kennedy halves, 40% Eisenhower dollars, and Silver Eagles because the silver content for those isn't 90%.

Another way to find out the melt value of coins is to look on the website coinflation.com.

When you sell to coin dealers, you can expect them to offer you less for your junk silver coins than the silver content is actually worth. Remember, this is how the dealers make a living, so you cannot expect full price from them. Most dealers will offer between 60% and 90% depending on several factors, including what exactly you are selling and the demand for junk silver that they are currently experiencing from there customers. If you feel their offer is too low, make a counter offer or try a different dealer.

Why Junk Silver?  In case of an economic crisis, including a collapse of the US dollar, there will be a need for an alternative to the dollar as a means of economic exchange. Barter (I'll give you a dozen eggs in exchange for a gallon of milk) will be one means of exchange, but there are difficulties with barter, which is why coinage developed in the first place.

Gold will be useful for large purchases (such as a home), but will be too valuable to be practical for small purchases (such as a dozen eggs).

Silver coins, on the other hand, will be much more convenient for smaller purchases. And since the value of junk silver coins comes mostly from their metal content, and since they come in denominations and designs the general public are already familiar with, they will be quickly and easily accepted as a form of currency.

How much do I need?  How much you junk silver you need to include in your preps is something you will need to figure out for yourself, and will depend on what your personal concerns and circumstances are, and how much you can reasonably afford. I will say that acquiring a lot of junk silver is something you should only do after covering the basics of your prepping (food, water, and other supplies), and that you should never go into debt to buy junk silver.

What types of silver coins should I get?  That is up to you, but I stick with circulated US dimes, quarters, and halves that are 90% silver. These are easily recognizable by the general public, and I avoid any possible confusion over the 35% and 40% coins. I also don't have to concern myself with any collectible premium.

Morgan and Peace dollars would also may be good choices, but are somewhat less recognizable by the general public. Silver Eagles (which I do also collect, but don't consider part of my junk silver) aren't circulated and carry a collectible premium.

Foreign coins and commemorative coins may contain silver, but will be much less recognized and accepted by the general public, so I avoid them.

Where do I get Junk Silver?  There are a lot of places you can get silver coins. Start by looking through the change you already have in your pockets, piggy bank, or that jar you drop loose change in when you empty your pockets at night. Be sure to always check the change you get everyday. Though uncommon, there are still some silver coins in circulation.

You can buy rolls of dimes, quarters, and halves from your bank. You can then search the rolls looking for silver coins, then return the rest. There is no risk in this method, since even if you find no silver coins, you still have the same face value that you bought. It is a bit of a hassle for the banks, so some banks/tellers may be a bit grumpy about it, but most will work with you. Search You Tube for Coin Roll Hunting for more information.

You can also buy unsearched rolls of coins from coin dealers and off of eBay, but these will usually charge a slight premium over face. Also, how do you know if the rolls are truly unsearched? I personally would not buy unsearched rolls unless I knew and trusted the dealer very well.

Visit local coin dealers. They will have a lot of junk silver coins you can buy, both loose and by the roll. You will pay a slight premium over the price of the silver content (but that is how the dealer makes a living). How much a premium will vary from dealer to dealer, and will depend on how much and what exactly you are buying.

Shop on eBay. Do an eBay search for Junk Silver and you will get pages of results to shift through. Be cautious! Especially with dealers who are not local to you. Pay attention to their customer reviews and feedback score; deal only with established dealers with very high scores. Read carefully the written description of the item and make sure you know what you are bidding on (don't go just by the photo). Make a small test purchase from a dealer first to see how it goes before making any larger purchases from that dealer.

Visit local flea markets, antique shops, and yard sales. You can often find coins being sold by non-dealers who don't pay close attention to the daily fluctuations in the price of silver. The opportunity is for some really great bargains.

You can also buy from the many large gold and silver brokers that often advertise on talk radio and the financial cable networks.

So, Junk Silver is a good investment?  Maybe. Maybe not. I am not discussing junk silver as an investment, but rather as a storehouse of wealth, a hedge against inflation, and a potential alternative to paper money as currency. I buy junk silver in order to protect my purchasing power, not in hopes of making a return on an investment.

Disclaimers

1) This article is an introduction to junk silver as a part of preparing for difficult times. It is not an article on coin collecting as a hobby or investment. 
2) I am not a financial professional, and nothing presented here is meant to be taken as professional advice. Should you need or desire professional financial advice, I suggest seeking a licensed financial professional, who will provide personalized advise based on your own concerns and circumstances. 

Follow Tim Gamble on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TimGamble

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The AMAZING Lindsey Stirling

Let's face it: most entertainment in today's world ranges from mildly vulgar to flat-out obscene. There really is a shortage of good quality, wholesome, entertainment. So, I've decided to occasionally highlight some great alternatives to the usual garbage masquerading as entertainment.

Lindsey Stirling is an independent performer (violin and dance) who is nothing short of amazing. She is an incredible violin player, and always gives energetic performances. You really have to watch one of Lindsey's videos to get a true sense of her unique style.

I love watching Lindsey Stirling's videos on You Tube. The music is great and the videos are highly imaginative, fun and extremely well-done. So much of enjoying her performance is watching her move and dance, and especially watching her smile and have fun. She so obviously enjoys performing and it really shows through on her face. I was/am so impressed with the visual impact of her videos that I only rarely just listened to her music, even though I do own both her CDs. Turns out that was a mistake.

A few weeks ago I began listening to her recent CD "Shatter Me" after I go to bed at night. I often have trouble sleeping and thought listening to music would help relax me. For the first time I really listened, just listened, to Lindsey's music. There, in the dark, without any distractions, I was able to listen to her music, to concentrate for the first time just on the sound of her violin-playing. It was awesome. Really beautiful. What she does with the violin is truly amazing (there's that word again).

As much as I enjoy watching her performance, just listening to it revealed so much more. Lindsey is a truly talented individual.

Lindsey has two albums out - her self-titled debut album and Shatter Me (click the links to buy her albums at Target. You can also order her music through iTunes and Amazon.)

Best of all, Lindsey's performances are not only fun, but wholesome entertainment that can be enjoyed by all ages. The YouTube video for her song "Elements" (probably my favorite, although Stars Align comes a close second) is below. Check out her YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/lindseystomp and follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LindseyStirling. Her website is http://www.lindseystirling.com/ 

Elements - Lindsey Stirling (Dubstep Violin Original Song)



I have fused my original "review" of Lindsey Stirling with a couple of updates in order to make one coherent whole. You may read the original and the updates by clicking here.