Tuesday, March 28, 2017

How To Be a Survival Group Leader

Are you are planning on being your survival group's leader during a disaster or a post-SHTF scenario? Are you a leader now? Leadership is about a lot more than just having a title or occupying a certain spot on an organizational chart. Being an effective leader isn't easy, and you won't transform into one overnight. Develop your leadership skills now, before the SHTF.

Entire books and doctoral thesis have been written, and university-level courses are taught, on the subject of leadership. This short set of tips is only a brief introduction to the topic:

Planning on being your group's leader? Be honest: are you a leader now? Do others think of you as a leader? 

If you are planning on being a leader, you're doing it wrong. You should be a leader now. Not just in your eyes, but also in the eyes of those you lead. If folks don't already see you as a leader, you have a lot of work to do before you actually become one.

Planning on being your group's leader? Lead by example. 

Leadership by example is really the only true leadership. The saying "Do what I say, not what I do" is pure rubbish and is meant to poke fun at those folks who seem to have that attitude.


Good leaders don't just lead, they develop others into good leaders. 

True leaders develop others into leaders. You need to be able to spot leadership potential, and to nourish it into fruition. For some, this may be difficult as they tend to see other potential leaders as competition.


Good leaders communicate very clearly. Always clearly define your expectations. 

This one is huge, in my opinion. Bad leaders often fail when it comes to clear communications. This could be due to a lack of self-confidence, poor communication skills, uncertainty over what actually needs to be done, or even an effort at CYA in case something goes wrong (if something goes wrong, they can blame others for "not understanding" their instructions).

Good leaders know how & why to delegate. It both frees up the leader's time and helps to develop others.

Poor leaders often fail to delegate correctly, and tend to micro-manage unnecessarily.

Good leaders know mistakes will happen. Never publicly criticize or shame someone for making a mistake. 

Mistakes happen. Unexpected events occur. Good leaders know this and aren't taken by surprise when it happens. Publicly humiliating the transgressor accomplishes nothing. Remember the mantra: "Praise publicly. Correct privately."

Good leaders accept responsibility for their mistakes & the mistakes of those under them. "The buck stops here."

This is often a missing part of leadership today. It seems like no one wants to accept responsibility for anything anymore. Good leaders do.

Good leaders know they must inspire trust in those they lead. 

If folks don't really trust you or your decisions, you are not going to be able to lead them effectively.  Give your group members reason to trust your character, your abilities, and your vision. You cannot demand trust. It must be earned.

A good leader knows he sets the tone for those around him. 

The leaders on sports team are great examples of this idea. Good leaders exude a aura of confidence, determination, drive, and positivity that infects their teammates.

A good leader never "shoots the messenger."

Bad news is always upsetting, but a good leader never takes it out on the one delivering the bad news. Leaders who do tend to shoot the messenger often are lacking in self-confidence, and this fault will quickly become apparent to the entire group.

A good leader adapts his leadership style to the needs of those around him.

A good leader knows he has to adapt to the needs of those he leads. This may mean that the good leader must suppress his own ego and change his approach before he can effectively lead.

A good leader maintains realistic expectations.

Expectations are a balancing act. You can be unrealistic in your expectations both by expecting too much and too little. Developing the ability to read people and accurately judge their capabilities is very important.

A good leader is always consistent and fair.

A good leader does change his mind, orders, and expectations, when it is necessary, but never at a whim, or without good reason. Inconsistency creates confusion and mistrust.

A good leader is also fair, and doesn't single out individuals for special treatment (good or bad). A good leader doesn't foster a "good ol' boys club" or engage in nepotism.

A good leader is willing to listen to honest feedback.

A good leader NEVER considers himself above criticism.

A good leader is never a bully. Bullying others into doing what you want is NOT leadership.

Have you seen the movie "Ender's Game" based on the Orson Scott Card book by the same title? In it there is a character named Bonzo who was commander of Salamander Army at the Battle School. Despite being smart and talented, Bonzo was a complete jerk who relied on fear and intimidation to rise to the rank of commander. He was NOT a leader, but rather just a bully (in reality, he would have washed out of any military or business leadership program long before becoming a commander). In the end, Bonzo got himself seriously hurt when he started a fight with another student who stood up to his bullying tactics (watch the movie, or better yet, read the book for more details).


Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is on the U.S. Marine Corps Professional Reading List.

Good leadership is about getting people to work together effectively for a common goal. It is not about forcing others to do things your way.

A good leader makes those around him better.

Think Magic Johnson or Larry Bird. Those two NBA stars were famous not only for their great abilities, but also for making their fellow teammates better. More than just setting a good example, or a positive tone, a good leader actively seeks to make those around him better.


NOTE: For a great discussion on leadership by The Maine Prepper and The Patriot Nurse, watch their video How to Be a Leader: Fundamentals and Principles on You Tube. You will recognize many of the ideas presented here.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Small Plot Gardening Tips


Note: Tips quoted from other sources are marked with a link to the original source. Unmarked tips are from me.

The point of this article is that you can grow at least some of your own food, even if you only ave a very small yard. Even if you have no yard at all, you can grow some veggies and herbs in containers on a patio or balcony, or in windows.

1- With any type of gardening, it is important to plant crops that you and your family actually like and will eat. Planting foods that you dislike, no matter how productive, will simply be wasted space (unless you plan on selling or trading them, an unlikely goal for those with very limited space).

2- Tomatoes are probably the most productive crop you can grow. Since they are tall, however, you should take care not to plant them where they will shade the shorter plants in your garden. Tomatoes are a good choice because they are packed with useful nutrients, store well (canned, frozen, or dried) and are a basic ingredient used in many dishes.

3- Green leafy vegetables, such as loose-leaf lettuce, turnip greens, spinach, mustard and kale all make excellent choices for small plot gardening. You can grow a lot in a small space. And they are all highly nutritious.

4- "There are all sorts of herbs that can be planted in containers and moved around as you please. And a lack of space doesn’t mean that you can’t grow some fruit or berries. Try raising strawberries in a strawberry jar, plant a fig tree in a container, or grow a compact blueberry bush in place of ornamental shrubs." -- veggiegardeningtips.com

5- "Many vegetables, including peas, pole beans, cucumbers, squash, melons, and tomatoes, will naturally climb a support or can be trained to grow upwards, leaving more ground space for other crops. Support structures include cages, stakes, trellises, strings, teepees, chicken wire, or existing fences let your imagination take over!" -- Small Plot and Intensive Gardening

6- "Vegetable breeders have been emphasizing smaller plants for container and small plot gardening. Although some of the dwarf or mini plants produce smaller fruits, often a greater number of fruits are produced, yielding a good total harvest. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and peas are just a few examples from the mini ranks. Some new cultivars of vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers have compact, trailing growth habits ideal for growing in hanging baskets." -- Small Plot and Intensive Gardening

7- Water less often but more deeply. Frequent light watering will result in shallow root development. When needed, water only once or twice a week but thoroughly enough to soak the soil down to at least six inches. This will encourage deep root growth.

8- Most small plot and intensive gardening techniques naturally discourage weed growth, but weeds are still likely to appear in your garden. Pull weeds as soon as you notice them. Weeds are easier to pull when young and pulling them earlier will help prevent them from spreading.

9- "For minimum maintenance and weed control, apply an organic mulch around the plants after the soil has warmed. A mulch also helps retain moisture in the soil. Grass clippings (3 to 4 inches), straw (4 to 6 inches), and sawdust (1 to 2 inches) are excellent mulches." -- Small Plot Vegetable Gardening

10- "Do not sow seeds too deeply or they may not germinate. Place carrots, radishes, and lettuce no deeper than 1/4 inch. Large seeds such as peas, beans, and cucumbers can be sown 1 to1-1/2 inches deep. Vine crops can be planted six seeds in a cluster or hill and then later thinned to four plants per hill." -- Small Plot and Intensive Gardening

11- "Thin seed rows to their proper spacing after the plants are 1-2 inches tall. Thin the plants with scissors rather than pulling them so you won’t disturb the other plants. Use the thinnings for salads." -- Small Plot and Intensive Gardening

12- Grow only a few varieties. Trying to grow a little bit of everything creates more work and yields less food. Since your space if relatively limited, try growing only a few favorites, or look to grow whatever costs the most at the market in your area.

13- Most herbs do really well in small pots. The pots can be moved around to take full advantage of sunlight, and even taken indoors in the fall to extend their productivity. Some herbs to consider: parsley, chives, mints, basil, dill, oregano and thyme.

14- "To select your vegetable garden plot, consider what vegetables need to thrive. Vegetables and fruits need 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. The vegetable garden plot should be well-drained and convenient to water (vegetables require 1 inch of water weekly or 75 gallons per 100 square feet)." -- Preparing a Garden Plot (no longer available online)

15- "Soil that is loamy, well drained, and high in organic matter is ideal for your vegetable garden. Visit your local cooperative extension or health department and pick up a free soil-test kit. The ideal pH for vegetables is 6.0 to 6.5. The test tells you if your soil needs lime added (available at your local gardening center)." -- Preparing a Garden Plot (no longer available online)


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Product Review: Valley Food Storage

http://amzn.to/2AsQYmV
Valley Food Storage recently  asked if I would be willing to review some of their products. I said "send me what you want me to review, and I will give it an honest review on my website." The following is that review. Please note that Valley Food Storage did not pay me to do this review. 

Valley Food Storage provides healthy long-term food storage options (freeze-dried foods, powdered foods, and related items). By healthy, they mean:
  • No GMOs
  • No Artifical Preservatives or Chemicals
  • No Fillers
  • No Hydrogenated Oils
  • No MSG
  • Many Gluten-Free Options
  • Many Dairy-Free Options 
Overall, I was extremely impressed with the quality and taste of the products they sent me to review. I also really appreciate the emphasis they place on providing healthy options. A quick look at their website revealed that their prices seem to be among the most affordable in the industry (several other similar companies are extremely expensive by comparison). Here are the individual reviews of the five products they sent me:

Pasta Primavera - Simple to make. Just add water and heat. The pasta primavera has a good taste, and was not at all powdery (which is my experience with another company's pasta). I'm not much of  pasta person, but my mother is, so I had her try this also. She really liked it, too. 

Freeze-Dried Coconut Milk Bites - WOW!! You eat this straight out of the bag as a snack. I loved it, and will likely order some just to eat as a snack.  Tastes great. I also added  some to my coffee, which both sweetened my coffee and gave it a coconut flavor. Excellent. 

Freeze-Dried Vanilla Greek Yogurt - Tastes exactly like vanilla Greek yogurt, which it is, of course, just freeze dried. You can eat this straight out of the bag, too. It is quite sweet, so it will satisfy any sugar craving you might have.

Freeze-Dried Strawberry Slices - You can reconstitute the strawberries, or eat them straight out of the package. I tried them both ways, and they tasted like strawberries. Very good.

Pineapple Chunks - Like the strawberries, you can either eat the pineapple chunks straight out of the bag or reconstitute them with water. Either way, they taste like pineapples! 

If you are looking for long-term food storage options, check out Valley Food Storage. Their list of products is extensive, and not just food items, but also water storage & purification, and other emergency supplies.