Friday, February 26, 2016

Composting and Vermiculture

In my recent article, The Top Priority for Long-Term Survival, I named food production the top-priority for long-term survival in any long-lasting, grid-down situation following a major SHTF event like an EMP attack, major war, and/or political or economic collapse. One key to a productive garden is healthy soil. This article covers two ways you can improve your garden soil - composting and vermiculture.

Composting and Vermiculture

A simple definition of composting is the turning of organic waste material, such as lawn clippings, leaves, garden waste, and kitchen scraps, into a nutrientent-rich additive for the soil. Composting is an inexpensive way to improve the soil in your garden, while at th sam time reducing the amount of waste you are adding to lndfills. Here are some great articles and websites on composting: 

Composting at Home - Good webpage on composting from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Small Scale or Backyard Composting - Lots of great info and links on composting.

How to Compost at Home - Great article on the Countryside website.

There are also a couple of interesting alternative methods for composting you may wish to consider - vermiculture and the use of a composting toilet.

Vermiculture is composting with worms. The wikipedia article on vermiculture is a great introduction. The Earth911 website has several excellent articles on composting with worms. Also check out the City Farmer's guide to composting with worms. The Countryside article How to use worms for composting is also worth reading.



Compsoting Toilets are a great way to turn human waste into compost and safe, usable soil. Done correctly, it is very hygienic and there is no odor. See the wikipedia article on composting toilets for an introduction, as well as the short documentary that originally aired on National Geographic channel presented below.





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Monday, February 22, 2016

US Navy SEAL Ethos/Creed


The U.S. Navy SEALs were established by President John F. Kennedy in 1962 as a small, elite maritime military force to conduct Unconventional Warfare. They carry out the types of clandestine, small-unit, high-impact missions that large forces with high-profile platforms (such as ships, tanks, jets and submarines) cannot. SEALs also conduct essential on-the-ground Special Reconnaissance of critical targets for imminent strikes by larger conventional forces.*

Although the SEALs always had an unspoken creed of honor, it wasn't until 2005 that they formally adopted the following creed.**

SEAL Ethos/Creed

In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man.

My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.

My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.

I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.

I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.

We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me - my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.

We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.

Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.
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*from Navy Seal History at http://navyseals.com/nsw/navy-seal-history/
**as presented on the Naval Warfare Command Website webpage: http://www.public.navy.mil/nsw/Pages/EthosCreed.aspx

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Top Priority for Long-Term Survival

The biggest long-term threat to our survival is hunger & starvation. It doesn't matter what event or events lead to disruptions in our food supply - war, economic collapse, political collapse, EMP attack, pandemics, or whatever.  The fact is our modern agricultural and just-in-time food distribution systems are precariously balanced, and the vast majority of Americans are not prepared for wide-spread or long-lasting disruptions.

The long-term answer really isn't food storage, though that does help in the short-term. Few people will realistically be able to store all the food they, their household, and their extended circle of family & friends will need for the several years it may take for society to rebuild the agricultural system & food distribution infrastructure after a major SHTF event. You MUST be able to provide at least some food for yourself - gardening, horticulture, fruit & nut orchards, chickens for eggs & meat, goats for milk, cheese, butter, & meat, etc and so forth...

Your most important long-term goal should be food production. Start this year. You may need it before the year is out, and even if things stay calm this year, at least you will be learning how to garden and raise food for when those skills are needed. Here are some resources you might find useful:

Gardening in Small Spaces

If you only have a small space in ehich to garden, you can still grow a lot of food. Check out these articles on this website for tips and ideas: 1) Small Plot Gardening, 2) More Small Plot Gardening, and 3) Lasagna Gardening.

If you have a typical small suburban lot, I recommend the book Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre. You'll be surprised how much you can grow on a small suburban plot. 

The Back To Eden Documentary

I've also recently watched, and was quite impressed by, the Back to Eden documentary. Here's the blurb from their website: "Back to Eden Film shares the story of one man’s lifelong journey, walking with God and learning how to get back to the simple, productive organic gardening methods of sustainable provision that were given to man in the garden of Eden. The food growing system that has resulted from Paul Gautschi’s incredible experiences has garnered the interest of visitors from around the world. Never, until now, have Paul’s organic gardening methods been documented and shared like this!" You can watch it for free on their website if you give them your email address. It is also available on You Tube.

Improve Your Soil

Having healthy soils is critical to productive gardening and raising crops. Some excellent articles to read on the subject of improving your soil are:

Build Better Garden Soil - An article By Harvey Ussery from Mother Earth News.


2/26 Note: The Monday after I published this article, Countryside changed their website. The articles struck out below seem to be no longer available (at least not for free). Instead, I direct you to their Soil and Compost archives for more information. 

Soil Facts - The Soul of Soil - by the staff of Countryside & Small Stock Journal

Soil Health Is Important When Growing Crops - by John Hibma, Countryside & Small Stock Journal

You may also be interested in the No-till, permanent bed farming article, also from Countryside & Small Stock Journal (a really great magazine). The article covers using green manure and cover crops to improve and maintain the soil. 


See also the Plants for the Soil article on this website.


Sunset Vegetable Gardening Illustrated

Only 128 pages, this 1987 book is not currently in print, but you may be able to find one at a used book store. Heavily illustrated and easy-to-read, it covers all the basics, and then some. Beginners, especially, will find this book very useful. It also covers herbs and berries.

Forest Gardening

Forest Gardening is a type of permaculture in which trees and other plants are grown together for food and other renewable resources in a method that mimics a woodland ecosystem or forest edge. Pioneered and popularized by the late Robert Hart in the UK, the idea has been further developed by Ken Fern and others. The concept is sometimes also called woodland gardening, edible landscaping or food forests. It has the potential to be very productive, and doesn't take as much land or time as you might assume. Some folks may want to consider this method. I've written an Introduction to Forest Gardening, along with a number of other forest gardening articles (click for an index to those articles).


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Survivalist Myth? The Golden Horde

Its a nightmare many survivalists and preppers have: masses of people fleeing the big cities and descending on rural areas after some sort of collapse of our society's economic system, power grid, and/or just-in-time food distribution system. Folks already living in those rural areas would have to contend with refugees that are totally unprepared, many of which would turn to looting and violence to take the rapidly dwindling food and other resources.

James Wesley, Rawles, in his book How to Survive the End of the World as we Know It (an excellent book, by the way), describes this mass exodus as "The Golden Horde." Its a term he got from his father, who was comparing the potential mass exodus from the big cities to the Mongol horde of the 13th century. Here is how Rawles describes it on page six of his book:
"Because of the urbanization of the US population, if the entire eastern or western power grid goes down for more than a week, the cities will rapidly become unlivable. I foresee that there could be an almost unstoppable chain of events:

     Power failures, followed by
     Municipal water supply failures, followed by
     Collapse of law and order, followed by
     Fires and full-scale looting, followed by
     Massive "Golden Horde" out-migration from major cities

As the comfort levels in the cities drops to nil, there will be a massive outpouring from the big cities and suburbs into the hinterboonies."
Is The Golden Horde scenario realistic, or a myth?

At one point in our nations history, the Golden Horde probably would have happened in a long-term grid-down event. But those days are long past, as the concept of self-reliance has been intentionally erased from the American people. Let me explain with some recent real-life examples.

Remember New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina? Remember all those people standing around in knee-deep water waiting for the government or someone else to help them? They had several days warning that a major hurricane was on the way, yet they did nothing. Even after Katrina hit flooding large sections of the city and collapsing its infrastructure, they did nothing to get themselves out of the situation. Instead they stood around in knee-deep water until authorities were able to round them up and ship them to the horrible and dangerous conditions of the Superdome.

That is called "learned helplessness," a behavioral term for when an organism (animal or human) has been taught through external stimuli to NOT help themselves, but to depend on outside factors. In the case of those people in New Orleans, generations of public education and government dependence left much of the population unable to help themselves. For most, it didn't even occur to them to try to get out of that situation on their own. And, if it did, they simply didn't know how to even start to help themselves.

Interestingly, the term "learned helplessness" appears in declassified CIA documents. The CIA defines learned helplessness as a type of instilled "apathy" which it is very difficult or even impossible to overcome.

Rawles mentions "municipal water supply failures" in his list of events leading to a Golden Horde. Well, in Flint, Michigan, the munipal water supply failed in 2014, and remains very dangerously tainted almost two years later. Despite knowing this, most folks living in the affected area are still living there, still drinking the tainted water, still waitng for government to fix it.

In certain areas of Chicago and Detriot, collapse of law and order has already occurred. Those areas are effectively without rule of law (WROL), and have been for years. People living in those areas are being slaughtered by gangs and criminals. Yet, there have been no mass exodus from those areas. Sure, the folks living there want to be safe, but they only know to wait for government to take care of it rather than to get themsleves out of those situations.

Golden Hordes might have been a possibility in the 1940s, 50s, and even 60s, but generations of learned helplessness means it is highly unlikely today. Of course, a few folks today will try to escape the big cities, but most won't even try. Instead of fleeing masses, the masses are much more likely to sttay in the cities waiting for help that will never arrive. The suffering and death will be extraordinary.
-------

Despite using Rawles Golden Horde idea as an example, I have a lot of respect for him and do recommend his books and website.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

God, the Old Man, and the River

I've heard the following story many times over the years, with slight variations each time. The message always holds true. I present it here, followed by a few comments:

God, the Old Man, and the River

There was an old man who lived in a small town near a river. The old man was a Christian. He went to church every Sunday, and he prayed and read the Bible everyday. He was a good man, and well liked in his community.

It had been a particularly wet winter, and the spring was no different. The river that ran by the small town that the old man lived in was quite full. In fact, the only reason the river had not yet flooded was the presence of a large dam a hundred miles up river from the small town. The dam was successfully regulating the river for now, but was finally at full capacity.

The old man was watching TV one evening when he heard the bad news. The dam was beginning to fail. If the rain didn't stop soon, the small town where the old man lived was sure to flood. The weatherman came on and said that the forecast was for more heavy storms. The old man prayed "Lord, keep this town and me safe. I place my trust in you to handle this situation."

The rains were heavy the next morning when the old man woke up. He turned on the radio to listen to his favorite Christian music station. The radio announcer was giving a dire warning. The dam had failed. The river was flooding. People in the small town were being told to evacuate immediately. The old man prayed "Lord, keep this town and me safe. I place my trust in you to handle this situation."

The river began to rise. Streets in sections of the small town nearest the river were flooded. People were leaving as fast as they could. A knock came on the old man's front door. It was his neighbor checking up on the old man and asking him if he needed a ride out of town. The old man said "no." After his neighbor left, the old man prayed "Lord, keep this town and me safe. I place my trust in you to handle this situation."

Later that afternoon, the flood waters reached the old man's neighborhood. It quickly flooded the streets, and eventually became high enough to flood out the first floor of the old man's house. The old man retreated to the second floor of his house. He heard a commotion outside. It was some rescue workers in a boat searching for people who were trapped by the rising flood. They waved at him and brought the boat near the old man's bedroom window. They shouted at him to open the window, and they would get him into the boat and to safety. The old man simply shook his head. He would place his trust in the Lord. If it was His will, He would save him.

Finally, the boat had to move away from the old man's house. Soon after, the house, damaged by the flood, collapsed. The old man drowned.

The old man went to heaven. He was happy, but something concerned him. He asked the Lord, "Why did you not save me when I placed my trust in you?"

The Lord smiled patiently at the old man. "I sent you the news report to warn you the day before the flood. I sent you the radio announcement that you should flee to higher ground on the morning of the flood. I sent your neighbor to offer you a ride out of town when it was still possible to drive to safety. I sent the boat of rescue workers to save you minutes before your house would collapse."

My Comments

Pay attention to the news and you will hear many warnings - economic troubles, job losses, massive and rising government debt, loss of economic and individual freedoms, a moving away from the Constitution and Bill of Rights, a watering down of Freedom of Religion into mere freedom of worship, a growing hostility towards anyone with a traditional worldview, especially traditional Christians and Jews, an invasion of Europe by millions of Muslims insisting that Europe change itself to fit the Muslim worldview, Christians in the Middle East being burnt alive, beheaded, raped, or forced into sex-slavery... And the list keeps going on... The world is growing ever more unstable, unsustainable, and dangerous, especially for Christians and Jews holding firm to our traditional values and beliefs.

We are being warned, each and every day, of dangers and bad times coming. We can choose to listen and prepare - both spiritually and physically. Or we can choose to ignore the warnings. The choice is ours.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Diabetes - An Update + Tips and Resources

Back in October, I revealed that I had been diagnosed with Type II diabetes earlier in 2015, and explaining how I was dealing with it as a "prepper." Today, I'm giving an update on my situation, plus a few tips and resources based on my experiences and what I've learned.

My Current State of Health

Fortunately, my current state of health is much improved. After almost eight months of effort, I have gotten my morning (fasting) glucose levels down to the 120s most mornings, and occasionally as low as 104. My after meal spikes in glucose now are typically in the 140s or 150s. Though I still need bring down my numbers a bit more, this is a tremendous improvement over last June, when most of my morning readings were in the 240s, and my after meal spikes often were over 350 (dangerously high).

I am not on insulin. I am controlling my diabetes through changes in my diet and lifestyle, losing weight (I've lost almost 30 pounds), and oral medication. My doctor has already taken me off one of the oral medications, and we are working towards getting off the second within the next few months, ultimately controlling my diabetes strictly through diet and lifestyle.

My eyesight, which was badly damaged (see my previous article), has responded very well with treatment (which, unfortunately, was a series of six monthly injections into my eyes). I will be undergoing one last treatment in two weeks, laser surgery to stop three leaking capillaries in one of my eyes.

Dietary Changes

After talking to my doctors, doing a whole lot of research, and after very carefully monitoring the effect of individual foods on my blood sugar levels, I have made two permanent changes to my diet: 1) I avoid almost all added sugar in foods. It is stunning how many of our foods have added sugar, and how much sugar is actually added. Food companies use many different names for sugar in order to hide how much is added to our food. 2) I have cut all potatoes and all grain products from my diet, including all pasta, bread, crackers, cereals, oatmeal, rice, corn, etc. I found that even the so-called "good grains" - whole grains - have a devastating effect on my blood sugar diabetes. In addition, my research on healthy vs. unhealthy diets has convinced me that the current USDA recommended diet, of which grains are the foundation, is based not on science, but rather on lobbying from Big AgriBusiness. Grains, even whole grains, are not a particularly healthy food.

There is a lot I can write about food and diet, but I will save most of that for future articles.

Tips and Resources

1) A good doctor is extremely important. Don't settle for a pill-pusher who just wants to write you a prescription and forget about you until your next appointment in three months. My first doctor was this way and I fired her (yes, you can fire your doctor). Instead find a doctor who will work with you to improve your underlying health, not just to cover your symptoms with medication. My current doctor has set a goal of getting me off diabetes medication by getting me to the point of controlling my diabetes through diet and lifestyle changes. I am already off of one of the two medications I was originally given. PLEASE NOTE: Everyone's health is unique to them. You may or may not be able to get off your medications, which is why you need to work closely with your doctor.

2) Take your health seriously. Diabetes can have major complications. You need to work hard and aggressively at overcoming your diabetes and improving your health. Don't just settle for controlling your symptoms, work towards improving your health.

3) Monitor your  blood sugar closely. Everyone's body is a little different, and will responded differently to various foods. There is no "one size fits all" plan when it comes to your health. Learn for yourself how certain foods affect your blood sugar. 

4)  Learn all the many, many, many different names for sugar. Our food supply has lots and lots of sugar added to it, and the food industry hides much of it by using a variety of different names for sugar, often using several different names on the same food label to how the true sugar content. Although there are many different types of sugar, they all are still sugar, and too much is very bad for you.

5) Of all the books I've read so far, the best and most useful is 60 Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar by Dennis Pollock. Pollock's book is an aggressive plan to contol your blood sugar by bring together the best of traditional and alternative medicine. What I apprechiate about Pollock's approach is that it is based on solid science, even the "alternative" aspects, and is not some hippy-dippy book that rejects science (avoid those). Also, his ideas are easy to follow.

6) My doctor recommended the book Life Without Bread by Dr. Christian B. Allan, and Dr. Wolfgang Lutz. This book presents a low-carbohydrate diet (but one not as severe as the Atkin's Diet) as the best healthy diet for everyone, especially people dealing with high blood sugar. Right now, based on my own experiences and everything else I've read, I think they are right about their low-carbohydrate diet.


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