Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lessons from the hunt

I hitched up my trailer and headed up to the place around 1:30pm on Thursday.  The weather was overcast, and rain was forecast for Friday and Saturday, but I decided to press on.  After stopping and buying my hunting license, I headed into the woods.  Thursday afternoon was spent setting up camp, chopping wood, and getting the fire started.  There was a recent storm and the creek was full to the brim. 

Friday morning I awoke early and headed out to the sit about 25 yard from the feeder.  No deer.  After about 2 hours, I made a quick breakfast of eggs and then proceeded to check my neighbor's feeder- he wasn't there.  After sitting in the stand for an hour or so, I spotted a deer, but she saw me first (or smelled me) and took off before I could take a shot, stopping about 20 yards from when she spooked (behind some brush), grunted and then ran away.  The rest of the after noon, I spent following tracks in the woods and exploring.  While hiking, I spooked 2 more deer.

Saturday, I set up by the feeder again.  I was watching about 5 squirrels eat corn, when a doe walked into view to my left- only about 10 feet away from me!  But she was looking right at me- even as she walked and ate corn, she didn't take her eyes off of me.  I ever so slowly raised my gun, but then she spooked and ran off about 30 yards behind a small cedar.  I froze, thinking that she might come back in a little closer or move from behind the cedar- no such luck.  She grunted and then all I could see was the white tail bounding up the hill in front of me. 

Didn't see anything else, except a flock of turkeys and an opossum. So, the trip was a wash and I hated to leave without a deer, but that's life.

So, lessons learned:

After recounting my story to a friend who is has some experience hunting, he told me that I should have quickly raise my gun- the deer would have bolted, but likely would have stopped about 20-30 yards away for about 5 seconds, then I should have taken the shot.  That seems to be what both of the deer did after they spotted me.  They ran away about 30 yards, turned for a few seconds, and then ran away.  This is my biggest take away.  Move quickly and take the shot as soon as the deer stops.  Also, be ready at all times- this is the hardest thing b/c when I was hunting there were hours and hours of sitting and thinking-hard to stay on alert for that long.  Had I been in the ready position, I might have taken that second deer even before spooking her.  My take away from this was that I'm learning how deer react to danger.

The big lesson is this- even in the best conditions (feeder, deer stand), it is not always possible to take a deer.  So, if you are thinking that you are going to head to the woods and hunt to provide food for your family, be prepared to go hungry.  There are no guarantees with hunting, especially if you don't have the experience beforehand.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Going hunting today

I'm headed out to my retreat for the next few days to hunt deer.  I'm planning to use my AK for the harvest using softpoint rounds.  I'll take pics and post them when I get back.  Planning to skin the hide using the golfball method (warning: graphic).  This will be my first experience hunting- I want the education and experience that comes with it. 

Also, I thought I'd share where my readers are coming from (countries).  Pretty interesting:
United States 42,824
Canada 1,756
United Kingdom 1,059
Germany 1,056
Australia 702
Russia 563
Slovenia 391
Netherlands 343
Romania 281
Ukraine 276

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Get your Priorities Straight!

Just thinking out loud here.

You need water to survive.  Without it, you can last maybe 2-3 days before major dehydration and dehabilitation sets in- then death. So, figure out how to get water and get it purified. Since this is the #1 priority for survival, you should have multiple ways to get clean drinking water for you and your family.  Think bleach, boiling (doesn't have to boil), filtering, etc.

After you have water, you're going to start thinking about food.  But really, you can last for months without it.  We Americans are mighty fat (in general) and carry a lot of food storage with us.  But, to be working at your top condition (and thinking) you need food.  It will also help to keep you healthy (avoiding dehydration, falls, accidents, etc.).  Short term (1 year) you should have a good supply of food stored.  Longer term, you'll need a garden and the seeds, knowledge, and tools to work it.  (Just started selling non-hybrid seeds at my website.)

If you have food and water, others are going to want it.  So, you are in instant danger.  To keep yourself safe you need to have a plan that will surely include firearms.  Follow the laws in your jurisdiction; but if you can, buy guns from private parties at gun shows.  Train with your guns and get educated on how to use them in a fight.  I personally recommend, at a minimum, a .22 cal rifle, a shotgun, battle rifle (AR or AK), and a pistol (in that order).  Heavy on the .22 ammo (How many gun battles do you think you can survive- 2? 3? 4? before your luck runs out.)  Remember, if it has really hit the fan- you aren't going to be concealing anything- and a pistol just ain't going to cut it (except as a back up). 

Once you have water, food, and a way to defend your supplies, you will need a place to store them and yourself. Some may argue that the shelter comes before guns, but if you have food and shelter, but no guns, you won't have either for long- besides most ppl already live in some kind of shelter. There are two main schools of thought on the shelter.  Either shelter in place, or bug out.  (I believe the best option is to prepare for both and do what it right at the moment.)  I like the combo option best- since I currently can't live at a retreat year-round.  Plan to stay in your suburban home as long as you think it is safe to (consider marauders, sanitary conditions, etc.), and then bug out to a safer (though probably less comfortable), remote location when you feel you must.  But have a plan.  How will you get there?  Do you have it stocked before hand?  Can you walk there?  Do you have enough gas in the car to get there?  What alternate routes are there?

There are lots of things to consider when preparing, but this is how I place my priorities.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Garage sale finds

This weekend I hit up a few garage sales and picked up a few items.  I got a US Load Bearing harness- with 4 ammo pouches and 2 grenade pouches and three canteens with carrying cases.  All of the canteens have the adapter to fit the hose for drinking out of your gas mask.  I washed everything and tried on the harness-

I have to kind of laugh at that harness purchase though- I hope I'll never have the opportunity to use it- but I know that it might come in handy if I ever need to do combat patrols when it hits the fan. Till then, it will just sit in a box- or if I can get someone to do some small unit patrols with me, I might use it for training.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bega Cheese?

I finally tried the Bega Cheese I sell on Amazon. I had heard good things about the cheese, but really didn't know what to expect. You have to open both ends of the can, and then push it out in one piece. I used my cheese slicer to make grilled cheese sandwiches today.  It slices easily and doesn't crumble. The taste is excellent- very mild and on the soft side. The kids really liked it. I enjoyed it both on the sandwich and plain. Why cheese in a survival kit? Well, you need certain fats that dairy can provide. Also, just surviving by eating your food storage may not be that fun- but actually enjoying the foods you've stored can make a big difference by having some comfort foods. I now have a case + and will likely order some more- because grilled cheese sandwiches on homemade bread is too good not to have in TEOTWAWKI. Bega Cheese is from Australia- and can store for 20 years. I want my larder deep and diversified. Cheese is now part of it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Additional plans for the cabin

I thought I would add a little bit tonight. I got the small ATV running and had a good time at a church daddy-daughter camp-out.  I also ordered another grain mill for back up (2 is 1 and 1 is none).  I got my meat grinder in the mail this past week (ready for the venison).

For the cabin, I've got a number of plans in the works:

  1. Add gutters and cistern for water storage.
  2. Add a built-in counter/kitchen area on the deck with a pitcher pump and sink.
  3. Build a shelf system
  4. Add cabinets
 Also, just wanted to remind everyone that I have my survival library posted on-line for free downloading at my website

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Been a while since I've posted.  I've done a lot of work up at the cabin.  Build a covered porch and added an awesome picnic table/railing for it.  I've been cutting a lot of wood too.  I set up a deer feeder and have seen tons of deer at all times of the day looking for corn.  Fired up my box wood stove for the first time and baked crescent rolls and brownies in the oven!

I really like my picnic table built in to the porch.  It is so convenient and saves space.  Thanks to Tyson for helping me build it.

Planning to take some deer this season to fill the freezer.  I have seen deer EVERY time I've been up to the property.  I also picked up another kids-size ATV for the the young'ins.  We have a great time up there just messing around. It's not running well yet- but it'll get there.

My website traffic has tapered off, but the Amazon sales of Red Feather Butter have been going strong.  I recently added some new dehydrated and freeze dried food products -so, please check it out and order some stuff from me!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Trip report & pics

Well, I was relieved to see that everything was still there. No signs of disturbance and there wasn't even any spiderwebs or critters in my cabin. The weather is still crazy hot- I got up there about 11am and by 5pm I think I was suffering from heat exhaustion (dizziness, chills, fatigue). So, I stripped down and hosed myself off (only to be bitten by horse flies!). Oh, well, I survived.

Unfortunately, my new stove did not make it there in one piece. I must have hit a bump or two going there cause the top part of my stove is MIA. I've measured it and plan to get a 1/2" steel plate for a replacement.

I chopped some wood with my maul (very dry and it splits easy) and tested out the new Husky chain saw. Here's some advice- make sure that the chain is tight before you start it. I assumed that the factory had it tight- they did not. I worked on the wood pile for a few hours both days till the chain got dull, then packed it up. I have a sharpener, but didn't feel like sawing any more wood.

I made measurements for a front porch and for steps to the big door on the side. I also plan to put fiber board (the kind you can stick tile to) on the walls and floor around where the stove is. I also measured out the stove pipe I need- I'm going to go straight up.  (That yellow 4x4 is my kids'. That's my outhouse and 4x4 trailer in the background.)  I also used both my 4-wheeler and truck to pull out some stumps that were in the way.

I did see a big doe up there when I was four wheeling. I spooked her and she just looked and me for a second and then bounded away. Just 1 more month and she'll likely be on someones dinner plate!

Dinner was rice and beans.  Breakfast was pancakes.  Lunch was a can of jambalaya. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Headed up to the retreat

Tomorrow, I'm heading out to check on the cabin and the land. Been a while since I've been up there- just been too dang hot. I bought a new chain saw- picked up a Husqvarna 445 18". Itching to trying it out. It's gonna be hot- but I have a generator and an AC window unit to fight the heat.

Also going to sight in my new-to-me-again .22 cal long rifle. I'm bringing up the stove and oven and gonna put it in the cabin. I won't be able to complete the install cause I need to measure for length of chimney pipe.

Hopefully, I'll have some pictures to post when I get back.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cleaning cast iron with Coke?

Okay so you can see from the pic below that my new-to-me stove has a light amount of rust.  I tried some mineral oil on it earlier today- but that didn't see to do the job.  So, I ran across this article that explains that you can use Coke to clean off the rust from your cast iron.  I've used Coke to remove the corrosion off of battery terminals before with great success- so I'm going to attempt to clean up the stove with Diet Dr. Pepper (my wife drinks it- don't ask.)  I'll post results as soon as I can (I think that's a pun).

Here's the article that is inspiring this post:

Have a Rusty Oven?
Though there are many methods for cleaning rusty ovens, the one that we have found to be the easiest to use is a can of Cola. If the inside is rusty pour the Cola in and let it do its job. Depending on how rusty the oven is will depend on how long you will need to leave the Cola on the rusty spot. If you have an issue with the outside of an oven use a sponge to apply the Cola, or place the cast iron in a large bowl or bucket with enough Cola to dissolve the rust (some rotating may be necessary). After rust is removed be sure to wash and re-season you cast iron.

Update: Diet Dr. Pepper does not work!  I think I'll try a real cola.

Craig's list score! Cast iron stove and oven

Yesterday I picked up a stove and a granny cylinder oven on Craigslist for $75. There is some repair work needed on the oven but I think some high temp metal tape will seal it up good- that way my baked food won't taste all smokey. The oven can take a 8x12" pan, which is plenty for baking a single loaf of bread.  The stove like this one sells new at Northern Tool for $300 and the cylinder ovens like the one I got retail for $275- $300.  I saw this one on Amazon:

So, new these items would have cost me about $600.  I got them for $75- plus about 6 feet of cheap stove pipe.  That's a good deal in my book.

This is my second cast iron wood burning stove.

The first I bought from Northern Tool 2 years ago. I think this one I just bought will be perfect for my retreat. (If the weather ever cools down again.)

Note: I believe that there is supposed to be a 2' section of chimney pipe between the stove and the oven- I just put it on like this for the photograph.  No idea who made it- any ideas?

Also acquired another. 22 CAL. It was the first gun I ever shot. A Springfield savage 187s.  Tube-fed semi auto.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

How to prevent scurvy

A few weeks ago I was on a business trip in Nebraska.  I stopped by the Mormon Winter Quarters visitor center.  If you didn't know, the Mormons blazed a trail (Mormon Trail) from east of the Mississippi all the way out to Utah.  They made camp for the winter near modern day Omaha, before setting out in the spring.  During that winter, many people died of scurvy- mostly children.

After learning this, I wanted to find out more about scurvy- I knew you could prevent it by eating Vitamin C- and that sailors would eat lemons and limes to ward off the disease.  But what did the folks without access to vitamins and citrus fruits eat?  I did a quick search and discovered that tomatoes, potatoes, and many other foods (including meat) contain relatively high levels of C.  But potatoes are pretty much the only plant that is sustainable in most area in the winter.  So, that is just one more reason to plant potatoes in your garden and lay them up over the winter.

If you don't already have a source for potatoes, you can order them at Amazon.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


I am growing a lot of zucchini and needed to do something with it.  We've made zucchini bread, chips, and relish. I still have more and the plants haven't shown any sign of stopping yet.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Family Grain Mill Review

In an experiment in 1970, a biochemist at the University of Texas, fed "enriched" white bread to rats for three months; two-thirds died, the others became sick (Basey). It is no wonder that more and more people are turning to whole-grain foods for sustenance; in fact, many prefer to grind their own wheat at home using table top grain mills and grinders to obtain maximal nutritional value and peace of mind. Among the various brands of grain mills on the market today, perhaps none deliver a more versatile and value-packed product than the Family Grain Mill.

The Family Grain Mill was first produced by the Messerschmidt company in Germany over 27 years ago; now, the mill utilizes state of the art materials like Lexan plastic and surgical steel burrs (Grain Mill). But why do people choose to grind their own wheat as opposed to simply buying whole wheat bread in stores? According to the FDA, breads and other products may label their food as a "whole grain food" as long as the food contains 51 percent or more whole grain ingredient(s) by weight (Health Claim Notification for Whole Grain Foods). Freshly ground grains, on the other hand, contain 100 percent of the grain and protects against heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer, prevents constipation, and offers a reliable food supply in the event of an emergency (Basey). The Family Grain Mill makes it easy to make fresh flour and provides at least two methods to grind “wheat, oat, corn, (not popcorn) rye, spelt, kamut, barley, rice, peas, most beans, coffee, flax seeds, sesame seeds, most dried herbs, dried jalapenos and other hot peppers and more” (Grain Mill).

First, the Family Grain Mill includes a hand base that attaches to a table or counter top and allows the operator to grind wheat by hand. The hand crank is metal and allows an operator to produce roughly two cups of flour in three to four minutes (one loaf of bread requires 4-6 cups of flour). The benefit of the hand base is that in the event of a man-made or natural disaster, or where electricity is not available, flour can still be milled. The crank is long enough that it can be operated by a small child, but does require manual effort and determination to mill enough flour for a batch of bread. The mill easily disassembles for cleaning and has an adjustment for very fine to coarse flour.

Second, the mill is easily motorized by attaching it to a popular mixer like a Kitchen Aid or Bosch mixer or by attaching it to the Family Grain Mill motor base. When motorized, the mill will produce over one cup per minute without overheating the flour- an important feature to retain as many nutrients as possible ("Family Grain Mill Demo"). However, even when motorized, the mill is not as fast as electric-only grinders, which can process upwards of two to three cups of grain per minute. Additionally, while it will attach to the smallest of the Kitchen Aid mixers, its motor will quickly burn up and is not recommended for use with the Family Grain Mill (Grain Mill).

Every grain mill uses some method for making flour- be it grinding, crushing, or beating. The Family Grain Mill utilizes “burrs”, a popular method for grinding the grain. In this process, two steel, stone, or composite plates, called “burrs” rotate against each other; the individual grains are fed between the two crushing or breaking the grain into flour. The Family Grain Mill's burrs are steel plates, which are grooved to aid in the feeding of the grain; the result is a finely “cut” flour as opposed to a “crushed” flour than stone or composite burrs produce- although the steel burs will eventually wear out sooner than stone or composites. The adjustment mechanism on the mill controls the distance between the plates and allows for varying degrees of coarseness. Most electric grinders utilize high-speed “impact” method, which slings the grain into an opposing grain and explodes the grain into flour- this method is rapid, but provides no means of coarseness control and is more limited on the types of grain they can process.

At around $140 shipped, the Family Grain Mill rests firmly in the low-to-middle price range of table top wheat grinders that most families can afford. While certainly not as aesthetic or durable as an all metal grain mill, its plastic parts help to keep the manufacturing and shipping costs low, while the steel burs provide the strength and durability where it is needed the most. The Family Grain Mill's lifetime warranty on defects and nearly three decades of milling history provides the peace of mind to those seeking to grind their own flour and will complement any family's kitchen appliances.

If  you enjoyed this article or found it useful in your decision to purchase a grain mil, please visit my webstore an purchase a mill from me!

Works Cited
Basey, Marleeta F. "Why WHOLE Wheat is WAY Better." Mother Earth News 207 (2004): 76-83. GreenFILE. EBSCO. Web. 14 May 2011.
"Family Grain Mill Demo." YouTube. Web. 14 May 2011. .
Grain Mill. Family Grain Mill System. Web. 14 May 2011. .
United States of America. Health Claim Notification for Whole Grain Foods. , 1999. Web. 14 May 2011. .

Saturday, May 7, 2011

photos from the retreat

Building a retaining wall.

Cut wood.

View from top of mountain

It's coming along.  Lots of work to do, but we will get there.  The driveway is finished, shale is covering all of it.  The cabin site is now level (enough).  The retaining wall is started (very tough work).  Still cutting wood from all the cleared trees.  I have about 2 cords cut and I've barely dented it.  Should have a shed build sometime this month.  Getting bids for dry-in for the big cabin.

This is a model of the cabin.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Response to a reader- How to get started preparing

I got a nice letter in the mail the other day asking for advice on how to get started preparing. This was my response.

Sorry it's taken me so long to reply to you. I've had a busy couple of days.

How to get started... First I highly recommend reading everyday.

Jim Rawles runs the site and he is world-renowned for his writings on survival. I recommend that you read his novel "Patriots" and then get his book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It"

While you're waiting for those books to arrive in the mail, read this page:

In that article, he recommends making a "list of lists". I made one and have it available for download on my website here: that should get you started on what you need to buy. It's spreadsheet- be sure to check the tabs at the bottom.

Another recommendation is to start now and make achievable goals. Get enough food storage for 1 week. Then 3 weeks. Then 3 months. Then 6 months... you get the idea. Get enough food to last as long as you think you need. I have 2 years worth and I'm still adding.

Start a vegetable garden, buy and get training with a firearm, learn non-21st century usable skills (First Aid, cooking, fire starting, husbandry, etc.)

Don't get overwhelmed. I know the feeling of needing to prepare and once I started, I felt so much better.

You will probably need to buy a number of things- but remember that preparedness is not about things, it's about skills- but you will likely need tools to exercise those skills.

I have a website where I sell a grain mill. You'll need one eventually and when you do, I'd appreciate it if you buy one from me.

My blog (if you start at the beginning) chronicles my preparations. I went from very little to a lot in about 2 years. I now have 2 years + of food storage, a decent sized garden, fruit trees, 10 acres of land, a 4x4 diesel truck, an assortment of guns, radios, skills (CPR and more), a diversified income, and a new network of friends. I sleep better at night knowing I can provide for my family better than I could 2 years ago. I don't say this to brag, but to let you know that you can do a lot in a short period of time.

Let me know if you need anymore help and how you're progressing. Keep in touch.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A secret source for prime compost material

Today I called Tom Thumb, a local grocery store, and asked to speak with the produce manager. I related to them that I was interested in what they did with their old produce and if I could have some to put into my compost bin.

If you're place is like mine, there is no way you can fill your compost bin to the top with just the lawn clippings and garden refuse from your own family's consumption.

I have tried a few ways to add to my piles. My neighbor owns a landscaping company and he regularly donates bags of leaves to the pile that compliment my lawn clippings (every other cut) and my garden and table scraps. Oak and elm are excellent brown (carbon) material for compost bins.

Today after work, I stopped by the grocery store and they had a large box of lettuce waiting for me to pick up! I can stop by weekly and pick up their refuse. Just think of all those nutrients adding to my soil! Iceberg, mixed lettuce leaves and spinach were what I was given. I'm hoping to get other vegetables in the future.

Speaking of my compost, I just emptied out last year's bin and applied a thick topping to all my garden spots and my apple trees. The dirt was so dark and rich and teeming with worms, I just know my plants are going to love it. BTW, I use free pallets to make two bins- one for each year, and rotate them as it takes about a year to cook it down to dirt.

Thursday, April 21, 2011



Doesn’t look much like a U.S. Air force C-130 to me.  Again excellent reporting by our new agencies.  This hat tip goes to “JSC” for the excellent observation.

My fence blew down in the last big storm that blew through Texas.  I can only imagine what the winds did to the fires. I wonder how you prepare for fire…  They were interview some couples on TV from Possum Kingdom who said their house had burned to the ground.  I hope they had insurance, but wow- talk about a setback.




Friday, April 8, 2011

Garden report

I have potatoes, lettuce, corn, green beans, peas, squash, cucumber, onions and peppers growing in my 72 sqft of garden space. I'm planting intensively this year with peas and beans surrounding each stalk of corn. The lettuce came up on its own (surprise!).

I staggered my planting my about 3 weeks with 2 of the beds, so that should extend my harvest time. These are seeds that I got from the link on the column. They are now 1 year old and have been kept in my fridge. I had about 20% not sprout. Not sure it this is average or not, but that's what I experienced. The first year, when they were fresh, they all sprouted. I still have plenty of seeds left and will use them again next year. We'll see how that goes.

What I did was, when I noticed they weren't sprouting, I just stuck another seed in the same spot about a week or so after the first planting and those are doing fine.

My apple trees (all three) got blossoms within a week of each other. I think there was enough overlap that they could pollinate each other, but they are still only 3 years old, so I don't know if I'll get apples this year or not. Texas is still due for another cold snap, but with how crazy the weather has been, I'm hoping that it's already come and gone. (2 weeks ago it got below freezing and my lettuce got frost bite on the tips- everything else seems fine though.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Family Grain Mill Demo

This is my first attempt at Youtube. I filled that 4 gallon bucket with wheat flour tonight. I just got that Bosch- so it's time to get busy making bread!  BTW, if you enjoyed this demo, or it helped you to decide to purchase a Family Grain Mill, please purchase one from me.  You won't find a better price on the internet Guaranteed! or


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Workin on the land

Here you can see the pad that was cut in for the cabin.  It will end up being about 2x's the size it is now.  Laterine and small ATV trailer in the background.

Here's the laterine my wife and I made a few weekends ago.  I picked up that ATV trailer for $80 and put a new deck on it ($35).  Works like a charm and I can load up lots of logs and rocks.

A start to my wood pile.

So, this weekend we checked out the work that Ron did cutting in a driveway and covering my culvert I bought.  He leveled a good area for the cabin, but we will ask him to enlarge it some more.  He also put 2 truck loads of shale on the driveway- need more.  I cut down a dozen or so trees, but didn't have a chance to stack them all.  We have soooo much work to do out there.  Lots of trees to clear.  Going to put up a largeish shed/barn that we will sleep in until the big cabin is done.  With no electricity, I'm planning to buy 4-5 golf cart batteries and run a small window A/C unit at night.  I also need to schedule the well man to put us in a well maybe next month or the one after.  My ATV has come in handy- I totally recommend one to anyone that has land.

My horseshoe shaped driveway.  (A must with a trailer)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Media claims plane shot down- but actually shows photo of SA-6 SAM missile launcher

Look closely and you will see the tracks, the rear air vent, and rails that hold the missiles.


Really?  If you can’t tell the difference between a plane and a rocket launcher, you need a new job.


How about the folks over at FOX and everywhere else plastering this photo?  Idiots


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Land Ho!

Well, at long last we have purchased 10 acres of land in an undisclosed location west of the Mississippi.
Nearby water, plenty of game animals.  Lots of trees.  About 2 hrs from my house.  (close but not too close).  It doesn't cross any major freeways and it's away from major population centers.

We got about 1 acre cleared out so far and will start building a cabin soon on that cleared area.  So far, we've put in a latrine, a tire swing, and a zip line (you gotta have fun).  There's room for a pond on the lower part of the property too.

I plan to plant some apple and pecan trees very soon. There's lots of pine trees and many hardwoods .

The land is very remote, so I have to get a well put in and find a source of energy to pump it.  I'm seriously considering a wood-powered steam engine to power a generator (that will make enough energy to charge a set of batteries and run the AC. .

 I've also started caching some supplies.  I'll be getting some of the food buckets from and put them into a sealed 55 gallon drum a burry it.  I also want to cache a mosin nagant and some sealed spam can of ammo up there.  That way if I have to bug out, there will already be stuff there.

The next building to go up will be a 10x10 shed/barn that we can sleep in at night and store some tool in.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Invalid Presidential Proclamation

Presidential Proclamation--Death of Army Corporal Frank W. Buckles, the Last Surviving American Veteran of World War I
Death of Army Corporal Frank W. Buckles,
the Last Surviving American Veteran of World War I
- - - - - - -
     As a mark of respect for the memory of Army Corporal Frank W. Buckles, the last surviving American veteran of World War I, and in remembrance of the generation of American veterans of World War I, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, that, on the day of his interment, the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset on such day.  I further direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.
     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

From what I have read, the president does not derive this authority from the Constitution (as he claims) or from the "Flag Code."   The Code only gives him authority to half-staff it for deaths principal figures of government.  Only Governors can declare half-staff for fallen members of the Armed Forces- and only then if they fall while on active duty.  Corp. Buckles passing does not qualify in either case.

Without disrespecting Corp. Buckles, where does this president get off claiming authority that simply isn't his? And if he's claiming this authority, what other authority is he claiming that simply isn't his?  What he does have authority to declare is a flag day, or a day of mourning or something like that.  Half-staffing the flag is reserved for very few and specific reasons.  So, while I think the passing of Corp.  Buckles deserves recognition, this is not the appropriate way to do it.

Title 4, Chapter 1 pertains to the flag; Title 18, Chapter 33, Section 700 regards criminal penalties for flag desecration; Title 36, Chapter 3 pertains to patriotic customs and observances. This is the pertinent part (bolding mine):
a.    The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff. By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law. In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, or the death of a member of the Armed Forces from any State, territory, or possession who dies while serving on active duty, the Governor of that State, territory, or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff, and the same authority is provided to the Mayor of the District of Columbia with respect to present or former officials of the District of Columbia and members of the Armed Forces from the District of Columbia. The flag shall be flown at half-staff 30 days from the death of the President or a former President; 10 days from the day of death of the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives; from the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a Secretary of an executive or military department, a former Vice President, or the Governor of a State, territory, or possession; and on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress. The flag shall be flown at half-staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day, unless that day is also Armed Forces Day. As used in this subsection —
1.    the term "half-staff" means the position of the flag when it is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff;
2.    the term "executive or military department" means any agency listed under sections 101 and 102 of title 5, United States Code; and
3.    the term "Member of Congress" means a Senator, a Representative, a Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Free Survival Food!

To kick off my new online store, I'm giving away a 72 hour meal kit which retails for $69.35 when you include shipping.  My store sells it for $36.00 delivered! 

That's six pouches of Wise Foods' freeze-dried food- very similar to Mountain House's camping pouches.  I'm relying on word of mouth to get this started.

All you have to do are 3 things:

1) Go to and leave me a message in the Contact Us section about how much you'd like to win this drawing.
2) Respond to this post with why you think Wise Foods would be a good investment or why someone should buy from me (preferably after you check out the website).
3) Tell someone else! (links are provided at the bottom of the post to help you)

The drawing will be held in three weeks time to give everyone enough time to enter the drawing.  The winner will be announced on this blog and contacted by the e-mail provided in the Contact Us form on the website. This offer is good to U.S. and Canadian residents only.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Calorie Crops - Sweet Potatoes

Why plant sweet potatoes?

The data below was taken from John Jeavon’s book “How To Grow More Vegetables.” The most efficient calorie crop is the potato. If you have many acres, why worry about space? Crops need watering, weeding, fertility, protection from predators, etc. Managing smaller spaces is easier than large ones.  A mixture of peanuts, beans, and sweet potatoes are the best calorie crops for this area.
kCal per lb.
lb. per 100 sq.ft.
 kCal per sq.ft.
 Wheat, Hard Red
Beans, Pinto
Potatoes, Irish
Potatoes, Sweet

It is very difficult to grow the Irish potato sustainably in Central Texas due to the need for the potato to get below 55 degrees F to germinate, and having to store the potato during the hot summer. The sweet potato is similar in caloric and space requirements, it grows during the hot season, and can be stored easily (underground) in our climate through the fall and winter.
While grains are good sources of calories, the growing and processing of these is much more difficult on a homestead sized scale.
Several older Texas (75+ years) recall growing sweet potatoes and storing them in hand dug root cellars lined with hay.
How much to plant? Below are some sample calculations for the area required to grow a substantial amount of calories.

Possible Yield 100sqft.
kCal per lb.
Protein Content (g)
kCal per 100sqft.
375 to 430
31,875 -36,550

The different yields above are for various levels of experience and soil quality. Since these soils are poor and our experience low, assume 85 lb/100sq.ft. and 375 kCal/lb.
Assume 45% of diet will come from sweet potatoes. Each person needs a minimum of 2,200 kCal per day.
2,200 kCal/day * 0.45 = 1,000 kCal per day per person

For a year:
365 days * 1,000 kCal / day = 365,000 kCal from sweet potatoes per person.
365,000 kCal per person
375 kCal/Lb. = 973 Lbs. of sweet potatoes per person for a half-years worth of calories.

With bio-intensive plant spacing, you need 248 plants per 100 sqft. bed (plant on 9 in. centers). Sweet potato starts can be easily grown from saved potatoes. A rough estimate is that you can get 10 starts per pound of saved potatoes (based on one years trial . may be adjusted after more research).

248 starts per 100 sqft.
10 starts per lb. = 24.8 lb. per 100 sqft. needs to be saved for starts
24.8 lb. is approximately 30% of the estimated yield of 85 lb. per 100 sqft.
You will need to save approximately 30% for getting starts for next year, so you need to grow (973 * 1.30) = 1,265 lbs per person for a year.

1,265 lbs. .
85 Lb. per 100 sqft. = 1,488 sqft. growing space per person.
The 1,488 sqft. is only the growing space, and you need room for paths which can be estimated to add 30% to the area.
So the total space needed is:
1,488 sqft.* 1.3 = 1,934 sqft. total space required for one person, 45% of caloric need met by sweet potatoes. It would be wise to increase the planted area by 30%-100% for contingencies.

20 people requires 38,688 of space. For reference, one acre is 43,560 sqft.

Notes from the garden:
In 2007 we grew several varieties of sweet potatoes, most of which got predated by gophers. A purple heirloom variety was noticeably untouched. In fact, we saw one large tuber that was bitten into, and left alone. The purple variety was saved and grown for starts in 2008. The Sumor variety of sweet potato is white, not very sweet, and considered a good substitute for an Irish potato. We have grown Sumors twice with no yield, and we are still working to learn why.
In 2008 we grew several varieties with lush foliage and no tuber growth. Below is some of the lessons learned during the last three growing seasons.

The vines of sweet potatoes should be pulled up regularly (every couple of weeks) to prevent the vines from rooting and putting energy into new roots and foliage. Having the vines climb vertically to minimize this rooting and to increase yields is potentially an excellent growing method that needs to be experimented with.

Sweet potato plants do best when stressed for water. Butch Tindell of the Center For Essential Education recommends the plants get to the point of foliage wilting in the afternoon. Heavy watering tends to encourage foliage growth versus tubers.
Sweet potatoes leaves are edible and a good green during the hot summer months. They are a good rabbit food and green during July and August when fresh green grass is in short supply. Growing the leaves as a crop in themselves should be considered.
Sweet potatoes should be grown in very poor, sandy soils. Too much fertility will yield lots of lush foliage, but little or no tubers.

Butch Tindell of the Center For Essential Education recommends using sweet potatoes
after a long rotation when the soil is the poorest. In his experience they plant 2 years in alfalfa, then corn, then wheat, then sorghum, then sweet potatoes . before starting with alfalfa again. In trials where the sweet potatoes were planted earlier in the rotation, the yields were noticeably less.

Reflecting on our records, we confirm that our best yields were in the poorest, and driest beds in the garden. And our yields went down as the fertility in our beds increased.

Concerns have been raised regarding using slips from your own saved sweet potatoes for propagation year after year. If your initial stock of slips comes from a good quality heirloom sweet potato source then there should be no problems propagating from your own plants year after year. If you start using commercial sweet potato stock such as the common orange, Beauregard variety, then problems in tuber size and disease begin after the fourth generation of propagation.