Monthly Archives: July 2013

Add a Machete to Your Preps

[Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on KnifeUp and is reprinted here with the owner’s permission.]

What is the Best Machete?

We reviewed the top 3 machetes and found one surprising secret. Unlike most people, I’m sure you’re looking for the best machete because you want to survive the Zombie apocalypse (or just cut down some stuff when hiking, either reason is good in my book). Well, after reviewing the top 3 best-selling machetes, guess what? One of them just plain sucked.

Name Kukri Colossal Bear Grylls
Brand Kabar Trademark Gerber
Sharpness Extreme Dull Very
Weight 1.9lbs 1.28lbs 1.8lbs
Length 17″ 25″ 25″
Material Carbon Stainless Carbon
Sheath Good OK Good
MSRP $66 $30 $55
Amazon $42 $17 $32
  buy now buy now buy now

What makes a Good Machete

These are features that you want in a good machete.

  • Weight. Depending on your task, you might need a heavy machete (for cutting thick branches) or a lighter machete (for carrying on your hip during a long hike). If you don’t know what you are gonna use a machete for, pick a middle of the road weight.
  • Length. The longer the machete, the more it weights. Also, the longer the machete, the more you can cut with just one swing. In addition to that, the longer the machete, the harder it is to carry it around on your hip (not good for hiking).
  • Sharpness. This is self-explanatory. You want a nice sharp blade that will remain sharp for years. Pro-Tip: If you’re cheap and won’t be using the machete a lot, just get a cheap machete and buy a cheap sharpener ;) . This leads right into…
  • Material. Different types of metals hold their sharpness differently. Some metals are quite soft and will get dull easily. Other metals are harder to dull but these types usually rust easy.
  • Sheath. The machete will come with a sheath (it isn’t safe otherwise) and the sheath should be of high quality. It is as important as the machete itself. You would want something sturdy. If you are going to a humid place, choose a synthetic sheath because it’ll resist moisture better.

Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete

Kabar machete with box


Ka-Bar (pronounced K (like the letter ‘K’)-bar(like the place you buy drinks at)) is a classic name in survival knives. The company originally produced combat knives for the military but now has branched out into other cutting tools. This knife has a 11.5 inch blade and weights 1.7 pounds. We found that this is just the right amount of weight and length to cut items in the woods behind our house with ease. Small branches were sliced in half with just one cut. It also did not become uncomfortable to carry around after an hour.

The handle is the classic Ka-bar grip. It is made of some type of plastic (I don’t know what) but, don’t worry, it won’t slip out of your hands easily. The handle also has a little hole at the end where you can attach some 550 cord to give you a loop to place around your wrist–for those of us who are afraid we’ll accidentally fling the machete across the room. You can also attach a whistle, fire starter, or mirror to the 550 cord.

The knife is very popular on the internet since it is the ninth best-selling hunting knife on Amazon. Other Reviewers stated how the blade came razor-sharp right out of the box. One even mentioned how he has abused his for years and is still in great condition. Get the Ka-bar Kukri machete here.

Trademark Colossal 25″ Heavy Duty Machete

photo of 25 inch machete

This machete is HUGE.

This machete is a little lighter than the last one at 1.28lbs and has a longer blade (20 inches long, or 8.5 inches longer then the last one). This one felt a lot lighter than the last one and, because of its length, felt more adequate for cutting twigs and branches. The length gives this machete tons of power. I agree with one customer who stated that this machete is more like a sword–and it is!

Once again, this machete came razor-sharp right out of the box. After a day of fooling around with my brothers, the machete got quite dull. I don’t think this thing was meant to cut branches. Also, some reviews said that their machete came dull. Eh, this machete isn’t winning a lot of people over.

I, right now, have almost no use for this thing. It is too long to carry on your hip but it would be great if you are going through the Amazon where the vegetation is leafy and not woody. I’m quite sure that they actually made this machete for the Amazon because the blade is made of stainless steel–it’ll never rust in moisture. Most reviews online were mixed about this machete and, for that, I don’t recommend this knife. You can read more about it if you really want to.

Gerber Bear Grylls Machete

Bear Grylls with his Machete

Gerber is a name that any outdoorsmen knows. Bear Grylls is a former Special Forces member and, now, a TV host. The Bear Grylls machete was designed for survival and weights almost 2lbs. This is the heaviest knife we tested. It has a 13.5″ blade. The weight and shortness of the knife made the knife a great tool for cutting down chunks of wood. In fact, we were bored and started chopping up some 2×4′s in the backyard with it. The machete can be used as a hatchet if you find the need.

Read the rest here

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Gear | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Sawyer Water Filter: Dirt Road Girl’s New Squeeze

by Todd Walker

A coffee shop and the Army Surplus Store were my two favorite hangouts while Dirt Road Girl was hospitalized during her battle with cancer last year. When I got a break, I’d walk a block, grab a cup of joe, cross the street, and browse cool man stuff.

Last week DRG and I visited the surplus store again. On the door was a 8 1/2 x 11 inch sign stating, “ATTENTION PREPPERS – WE HAVE SAWYER SQUEEZE WATER FILTERS IN STOCK!”


DRG needed a portable water filter for her 72 Hour Bag. I carry a MSR water filter in my bag. But what if we had to split up. Or she had to get out of dodge own her on? She needed her own filter that was simple to use and lightweight.

I love my MSR MiniWorks EX. It’s easy to clean in the field with no tools, attaches to my MSR Dromedary Bag, and removes bacteria and protozoa including giardia and cryptosporidia. The only drawback is it’s weight – about a pound with the accessories.

Pound, smound! One pound doesn’t seem like much, but I wanted to make DRG’s bag as light and efficient as possible. Every ounce she shaves off saves energy.

We picked up a Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter. It weighs 3 ounces.

sawyer squeeze water filter

DRG’s new squeeze!

With my yellow jacket stings shrinking, I set to the woods to do some testing. The weight, box and all its contents, was hardly noticeable in my test bag. I brought along my new Pathfinder cook set. A separate review is coming on this bad boy, I promise!

For three ounces, this is what you get:

  • The filter ~ Hollow-fiber membrane with a pore size of 0.1. The MSR pore size is 0.2. Both are effective for filtering out parasites and bacteria.
  • Three mylar squeeze bags ~ 16 fl. oz.: 9 x 5 / 32 fl. oz.: 11 x 6 / 64 fl. oz.: 12 x 8 inches
  • A 60 cc syringe to back flush the filter (with clean water) to maintain proper flow as needed. You could also use this item to flush wounds in the field and other redundant uses.
Only three ounces dry.

Only three ounces dry.

Out of the Box Simplicity

There’s no breaking in this filter or big learning curve. Just fill one of the mylar bags with ‘dirty’ water from a creek or pond, screw on the filter to the bag, and start drinking. I filled the 64 oz. bag and filtered the water into my 32 oz. Pathfinder bottle in under a minute.

One hand squeezing, one hand holding the camera.

One hand squeezing, one hand holding the camera.

It’s important to wipe excess unfiltered water from the bag before transferring to your clean container. Drops of unfiltered water containing bacteria, protozoa, and cysts could cross-contaminate what you think is safe drinking water.

The filter comes with a pop-up spout found on some water bottles. This allows you to drink directly from the filter with a mylar bag of unfiltered water attached. Or you can squeeze water into a clean mylar bag or container for later use. The filter will also fit standard treads of water/soda bottles. I tried a cheapo brand water bottle and the male treads would not tighten in the filter. ‘Standard’ threads do fit.

Keep in mind that this filter, like all other filters on the market, will not remove viruses. Have a way to treat viruses via chemicals or boiling. Don’t roll the dice with water. Keep chemical treatments and fire in your kits.


This little Sawyer is rated (guaranteed) for 1,000,000 gallons. That’s not a typo. One Million! I have no way of ever testing to see if they are right. I don’t think DRG will ever get close to that number. It would take a lot of Platypus bottles to equal a million gallons. No way we will ever squeeze that much water. It may become a family heirloom.

I’ve seen videos of the Sawyer used at home to filter water from a 5 gallon bucket. I like this guy’s gravity inline filter set up:

<iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

You can’t live long without water. Whether you’re an ultralight backpacker, prepper, or outdoor enthusiast, you’ll want to have a safe, effective way to create potable water. The Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter is a great way to do that.

Before storing your filter after use, back flush the filter with a diluted bleach water mx from the included syringe. This will help dislodge any clogs and clean up any nasties left from dirty water. Shake all the excess water you can from the filter. You can even blow through clean end to help this process.

Enjoying a cup of wild ginger tea with DRG's new squeeze!

Enjoying a cup of wild ginger tea from DRG’s new squeeze!

I would recommend this lightweight, simple-to-use water filtering system. For under $50.00, you can add one to all you kits. I’m buying one for my get home bag. I may add one as a back up to my MRS filter in my B.O.B.

Stay hydrated, my friends!

Anyone have a new squeeze and want to share tips and experiences? Please leave comments if you do.

Keep doing the stuff,



Be a SmartPrepper and follow us here on our blog, Twitter, and Pinterest. We’d also appreciate a ‘like’, comments, and shares on our new Facebook page. Any information on this site may be shared freely, in part or whole, with a link back to this site crediting the author. Thanks for sharing the stuff!


Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Water | Tags: , , , | 14 Comments

Slicing Through Nanny State Knife Laws

by Todd Walker

Is that bulge in your pocket an illegal knife, or are you just excited to read this article?



How do your knives measure up – legally?

That’s right, in case you’ve just returned as a 30 year castaway on a remote, deserted island, there are laws that govern the length of your blade and whether you need a permission slip from the State to carry (open or concealed).

Welcome to Nanny State America! If you live here in these united States, pleading ignorance for carrying weapons (knife or gun) is not going to get you off the hook with our ever ‘watchful’ enforcers.

If you’re like most law-abiding people, you’re probably committing a-felony-a-day without even knowing it. To understand and stay within the law, you’d need to either go back to your island paradise or spend 8.31 hours per day for the next 2.7 years buried in law books.

There are 50 states, 57 according to the POTUS, that have different rules about possessing and owning weapons.

If you frequent cross state lines, you’d need to spend time researching all the state laws for travel route. Plus, you need to know how to interpret legalese.

Lets say you want to go visit your aging grandmother in Buffalo, New York. You leave Georgia and drive through several states and stop for fuel, beef jerky, and a room at Motel 6. You possess a Georgia Firearms License enabling you to legally carry your Bowie knife concealed (Crocodile Dundee style). It was a gift from your kids. So you carry it. (Just play along, okay)

How can you check to see if your able to legally carrying your knife (or any knife) in NY? Just do it and hope you don’t find out the hard way?

Here’s a better way.

The good folks over at contacted me to share their updated knife law resource. It’s different from other knife law sites I’ve seen. KnifeUp was written in 2013, includes legislature and case law, and translates lawyer-speak into plain, common man English.

Check out your state’s knife laws here. You might learn something and prevent you from committing that felony-a-day… when it comes to carrying knives, at least. NOTE: If you live in one of the other 7 states BHO is ruling over, you won’t be able find your state on the map over at KnifeUp! Call your White House for assistance in this matter.

One thing I learned about my state is…

Before July 1, 2012, different Georgia cities might have different rules regarding knives you could legally carry in their jurisdiction. Now, the state lawmakers passed a statewide knife law preemption effectively nullified local knife laws.

What this means is that you can travel from city to city without worrying whether a knife that is legal in your city is legal in the next town over. For example, it was legal to carry a 4 inch pocket knife in Columbus but, if you drove into Atlanta, you would be breaking Atlanta city law. – source:

For Georgia residents, our knife laws are unrestrictive compared to some states.

What this law states is that you can own any knife you would like as long as you keep it inside your property. You can carry, open or concealed, any knife that is less than 5 inches. This includes butterfly knives, switchblades, and any other type of knife that is commonly banned in other states. – source:

becker bk-2

My Becker BK-2 bushcraft blade is 1/4 inch over 5 inches requiring a State permission slip to legally carry off my property.

When Dirt Road Girl and I travel to other states, I always check to see if the states we visit recognizes and are reciprocal to our Georgia Firearm’s License. I’ve never really checked into knife laws for other states. With KnifeUp, I can. I’ve added their link to our Blogroll and Resources page under “Firearms/Shooting/Marksmanship” for future reference.

But wait! There’s more!

Even if you don’t care what your state knife laws are, but love knives, KnifeUp offers more resources than law-talk. I’ve spent some time rummaging through KnifeUp’s site and it’s loaded with other great information for knife aficionados and preppers.

They do reviews on sharp stuff (pocket knives, multi-tools, etc.). Find reviews here. The “Misc” tab is loaded with value-adding info on prepping, lists, and DiY stuff. You’ll enjoy their comparison of 3 machetes. Spoiler alert, the Gerber Bear Grylls machete didn’t win.

If you get some time to check them out, let me know what you think.

Keep doing the stuff,


P.S. As always, if this article was helpful, please share it freely with your friends with a link back to this site.

Categories: Life-Liberty-Happiness, Preparedness | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Once Bitten Twice Shy: Taking the Sting Out of Yellow Jackets

by Todd Walker

I’m typing this post with a very swollen left hand.

Once Bitten Twice Shy: Taking the Sting Out of Yellow Jackets -

I’ve always reacted badly to insect bites. While putting up a wooden fence for a friend yesterday, I disturbed a yellow jacket nest in a bed of ivy. One power-packing bugger hit my in the knee. I killed it and ran about 10 feet away. Then one hit my left hand. I hightailed it away from the area. Fortunately, I only ended up with two stings.

One yellow jacket sting to my left hand and one on my right knee - pictured below.

One yellow jacket sting to my left hand and one on my right knee – pictured below.

wasp sting kneeKnowing my reaction to wasp stings, I started walking the yard to find my favorite remedy, plantain leaves. I quickly chewed a few to activate the goodness and applied the greenery on my bites. The plantain immediately worked to relieve the stinging. The painful sting was not my biggest concern. The swelling and reaction worried me.

The Band Aid I used to hold the plantain on my knee lasted all of 3 minutes before coming off. Sweat and Band Aids don’t mix well. I used medical tape from my first aid kit to secure the natural remedy to my hand. I put my gloves on and went back to work.

Now for the unprepared part.

I didn’t have Benadryl in my work/construction kit. Bad move, Todd! I keep antihistamine meds in all my other kits (hunting, backpacking, get home bag, etc.), but failed to pack any in my construction kit.

Had I been stung multiple times, a hospital/doctor visit would have been necessary. Dirt Road Girl gave me Benedryl when I got home that afternoon with an added dose of lecturing about my not being prepared. My wasp encounter left me uncomfortable, but could have been worse.

Tips to avoid and treat stings

1.) Avoidance –  This is the obvious choice. But sometimes you encounter them anyway. What to look for when outdoors:

Photo credit

  • Eastern Yellow Jacket – Yellowish with black bands around its body. Only 3/8 to 5/8 of an inch in length, their smooth stingers, unlike honeybee’s barbed stingers, allow them to inject painful venom in victims multiple times.
  • They build underground nests in cool, shaded areas.
  • When disturbed, their attack zone is about 15 feet from their nest. They will get in your clothes and continue their stinging assault. Steer clear if at all possible!
  • These wasps are actually valuable to have around when they’re not mad at you. Their beneficial in that they kill and eat spiders, caterpillars, and other garden pests. They forage up to one mile from their nest. 
  • They’re fond of sweet stuff. You’ll see them hovering over sweets, meats, and sugary drinks at picnics. Stay away from an area if you notice yellow jackets flying in and out of the ground. 
  • Avoid wearing brightly colored clothing, scented perfumes, and ‘girly’ smelling body soap. These strong odors and flashy colors attract wasps and bees.

If you are allergic to stinging insects, take precautions before you have a run in with these dangerous pests protecting their turf! An allergic reaction happens when your body over-defends against the venom.

2.) Treating stings

The key to reducing damage from wasp stings is to treat them as soon as possible.

Immediately after being stung, I started looking for plantain. I applied it as quickly as I could chew it. Even getting it on that soon, my hand and knee are still swollen and itchy.

For folks that are extremely allergic to the venom, I recommend seeking immediate medical attention. Serious allergic reaction symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Slowed speech
  • Tightness in the throat or chest area
  • Fainting
  • Losing consciousness
  • Anaphylaxis

People have died from mass envenomation from stinging insects. If you are aware of serious allergic reactions from venom, have your doctor prescribe epinephrine (adrenaline) injecting devices and carry them it in all your kits, home, and office.

Remedies and treatments for mild reactions from stings:

  • Topical and oral antihistamines work to help reduce inflammation and itching. Scratching the itchy sting site could introduce bacteria into the skin and cause infection.
  • If you have cold presses or ice available, apply 10 minutes on and ten minutes off (repeat as necessary) to help reduce the itching and swelling.
  • Plantain – Where there is no doctor or medical treatment available, I highly recommend plantain (weed – not banana) leaves. Release the juices by chewing or crushing and apply ASAP. Plantain is a common weed found in most places.
  • Apply a clay/mud pack to the affected area. Wrap it with clean cloth or bandage and allow the pack to dry.
  • Meat tenderizer mixed with water to form a paste can be applied to neutralize the venom.
  • Along the same lines, baking soda and water can help heal the sting.
  • Activated charcoal and water will help as well.

Yellow jackets, though small in size, pack a wallop. Take precautions to avoid them, be prepared to treat nasty stings, and don’t let stinging insects keep you from enjoying the great outdoors.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


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Categories: Bushcraft, Herbal Remedies, Medical, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 26 Comments

Deer Proofing Your Garden Now and Post-SHTF

by Todd Walker

After the Reset, what’s your plan to keep deer from munching on all your food?

It only takes one cute Bambi to destroy what you had planned to feed your family in the winter.

Dirt Road Girl and I returned from a two-day getaway to find mostly stubs in our raised bed garden. What used to be peppers and okra looked like oversized match sticks pressed into the soil. We aren’t dependent on our garden to get us through to the next growing season – yet. We can ‘always’ run to the store to replace what the deer feasted on.

Our matchstick garden.

Our matchstick okra plant.

We still have other food options now.

After an event (collapse), running to the local supermarket won’t be an option to replace what was growing on those match sticks. YOYO – Your Own Your Own.

Let’s forget about having to deal with hungry zombie hoards for now. Zombies don’t eat from gardens, do they? Learning to repel destructive deer is purpose of this article.

An old-timer down the street told me to put up an electric fence with a single strand of wire 27 inches high (solar-powered fences are available). Our electric fence worked last year for our front yard garden. I got lax and didn’t put it back up this year. Now I’m raising match sticks that won’t light a fire! The fence is up now to salvage what’s left.

I know deer can jump higher than 27 inches. Heck, I can jump that high! For some reason, deer don’t, or didn’t last year, breach the fence. Maybe one or two got zapped in the chest and passed the word to go to lower hanging fruit – like my neighbor’s hosta beds. But word spread that the Walker’s have a free smorgasbord this year.

Tough lesson. But not devastating – in these ‘good’ times.

Another tip from guy at our local farmer’s market was to put up a baling twine fence. The orange twine used to bail pine straw worked for him. He strung three or four strands on electrical conduit poles with the top strand about 7 feet high.

The key to success of his deer fence is the top stand. He bent the conduit at the 5 foot mark to angle slightly away from the interior  of his garden. It resembles a chain link fence with barbed wire on top at a 30 degree angle. He’s been using this set up on his 1/4 acre garden for years and said it keeps the deer out. Not very expensive, either.

We don’t have larger big game animals like moose and elk to deal with in Georgia. And the above described fence won’t keep smaller critters out. But it may be an inexpensive way to keep the deer from feasting on your plants.

Keep in mind, any determined deer that’s left after a collapse will find a way to eat easy pickings in your garden.

Here are a few other deer deterrents you might want to consider in your plan. There are different categories: scents and plants, gadgets, dogs, and physical barriers. Unless you can afford an 8 foot deer fence, you may want to employ a combination of these strategies described below.

Scents and Plants

Many commercial scents are available. Then there are recipes for homemade scents that supposedly deter deer. I wouldn’t count on scents to deter determined deer. Now is the time to test them. Anyone ever tried rotten egg spray? Here’s a link to the recipe which I found and included below:

  • Rotten Egg Spray Recipe In a blender mix eggs and garlic. Add water and blend. Remove to a container with a lid and let sit outside for several days in the sun. Strain mixture with cheesecloth or coffee filter into a spray bottle and enjoy. (Don’t skip the straining part or your mixture will clog in the sprayer)
    6 -8 eggs
    6 gloves garlic (add more if you like)
    5 cups water
    2 squirts Elmer’s Glue
    2 squirts dish detergent (to help it stick on plants)

Commercial scents can be purchased that contain urine from predators that eat deer (coyote and wolf). Even scenting your garden perimeter with your own pee is an option. Gotta use stealth for exposed front yard gardens like mine. *kidding*

Seriously, collect your pee in private and apply. The drawback for our neighborhood, and possibly yours, is that the members of our deer herd are like neighborhood pets and some folks actually feed them for entertainment purposes – encouraging them to keep coming back for more.

There may come a time when you’ll want to feed (bait) deer to get a close, easy shot. But while rule of law exists, don’t feed the critters!

Other offensive, smelly stuff include: garlic, cat feces, bags of human hair, sewage sludge, and fermented blood. This stuff will even keep zombies and vampires away, so I’m told.

Plants: Raising plants that deer don’t like is another strategy. Again, I’ve seen hungry deer eat stuff that was not on their typical diet. Just like human animals, we’ll eat most anything when we’re hungry enough.

Plants should not be your only line of deer defense. They may help, but are not foolproof. If you go the plant route, cultivate plants with strong smells. Mint, sage, chives, lemon balm, purple cone flower, and bee balm are a few to consider.


My neighbor uses a motion activated sprinkler to keep his flowers and plants intact. They cost about 50 bucks and seem to work. He’s protecting hostas and flowers while the high-pressure water and electricity is still on.

For a grid-down situation, and just for the fun of it, here’s a rat trap rigged with fishing line that, when tripped, strike a percussion cap and alerts you of four-legged intruders. The warning shot could also alert unwanted two-legged animals.

Noise-makers with flashing lights can be purchased or made. Or you can build DiY gadgets. In urban/suburban settings, loud bangs and noises will only get you noticed by angry neighbors at 2:33 in the morning. Some people like to sleep.

Aluminum pie tins attached to string on the perimeter of your garden is another option. This strategy is best employed in rural setting. Here’s a thought. Build a solar-powered, mechanical scarecrow robot with motion detectors 😀 – Yea, that’ll work.


Working dogs like the Great Pyrenees are great guardians of the garden, home, and homestead. A dog inside a fenced area will help deter deer and other pesky varmints. Dogs don’t have to be huge and ferocious to be effective on a homestead. Small yappers get the job done for alerting you to garden intruders.


Abby has super hero powers. Her cheerleading shirt is to keep her from licking stitches in her shoulder. She usually wears a Wonder Dog cape.  

Combining any of these ploys to protect your survival garden will increase your chances of not becoming a matchstick farmer.

If I had to pick my best option for pre and post-SHTF deer deterrent, I’d choose…

A fence and a dog.

What has worked for you? Drop your ideas in the comment section to help us out!

Keep doing the stuff,



Be a SmartPrepper and follow us here on our blog, TwitterPinterest, and ‘like’, comment, and share our Facebook page.


Any information on this site may be shared freely, in part or whole, with a link back to this site crediting the author. Thanks for sharing the stuff!


Categories: Gardening, Preparedness, Self-reliance, SHTF, Survival | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Random Acts of Prepping

by Todd Walker

Prepping is an intentional, deliberate act.

Then there are times when we do random stuff that turns into an act of prepping.

Dirt Road Girl and I like new stuff, as long as it’s old. Antique shop owners know us by name – or at least by our faces. Our taste in decor is what we call, Hillbilly Industrial. A mix of eclectic industrial art, old school artisan stuff, and useful shiny things fill our home. DRG is the mastermind behind it all.

Our latest random find – an old kraut cutter. Now we’re legit. We’ll use it on our next batch of Down and Dirty Sauerkraut. 

sauerkraut cutter

Our ‘new’, legit kraut cutter ready to go. It’s adjustable, too!

We’ve always used the food processor but were not pleased with the size of the kraut.

On to the purpose of this post…

Random Acts of Prepping

Preppers have been spun by the media (and other illegitimates) as a bunch crazy conspiracists living underground in bunkers hoarding food, water, and ammo. There’s a few that fit this stereotype. But the vast majority are normal, everyday common folk from all walks of life.

I’ve been on both the receiving and giving end of random acts of kindness prepping. I’ve received homemade soap, books, blogging advice, recipes, tips, ideas, equipment, scoby, and other stuff in my mailbox from good, salt of the earth type people – all from fellow preppers.

Random acts of prepping is ‘random acts of kindness’ on steroids. It’s a deliberate act attempting to encourage others to be better prepared. In the face of uncertainty, you’re making a stand for preparedness with simple, random acts.

There comes a time when we all need a nudge to keep doing the stuff. Do not underestimate the impact of random acts of prepping. It could be the catalyst for your neighbor to begin their journey to preparedness.

Here are some tips for carrying out random acts of prepping (RAP). I know, the acronym is what it is. Sometimes it works out that way 🙂

1. Perform RAP with no expectation of anything in return. The receiver benefits, you’re encouraged, and the act gets paid forward. The reward for you is found in the giving.

2. Send a hand written note ~ anonymously. In this day of electronic mail, personal notes stand out.

3. Respect privacy. Many preppers want to stay anonymous. If you’re online friends, ask if there’s a way to send something physically. Share your personal info at your own discretion. I’m sure I’ll catch flack on this one.

4. Start at home. RAP is a great way to build local, ‘real’ people relationships. Neighboring matters.

5. For preparedness bloggers, we really like readers sharing random ideas, tips, and stories. Don’t be shy to ask and engage with folks you follow. If you enjoy their work, let ’em know. You’ll brighten their day.

6. Fan the flame. Just like random acts of kindness, RAP is contagious and inspires others.

Do a random act of prepping for someone today. Spread the word.

By the way, this is a manly skill, guys. Shock somebody with your RAP! Be kind and leave your RAP ideas in the comments, please.

Doing the stuff -> randomly,





Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Preparedness | Tags: , | 10 Comments

Michelangelo’s Subtraction Solution: Carving Your Masterpiece Preparedness Plan

by Todd Walker

Sometimes preparedness means saying no to 1,000’s of things – and people.


On our journey to preparedness, we’re suppose to add to our skill set, physical preps, and knowledge base. But our magnum opus, our greatest work, comes through subtracting everything that is not prepared for our future.

It occurred to me recently that we prepper-types are not keen on the concept of subtracting stuff. The latest, greatest, and shiniest must-have items don’t always make life easier – or survivable. Take a cue from Michelangelo and start subtracting. Chip away at stuff that doesn’t belong in your plan. Instead of constantly adding, subtract stuff strategically.

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.

~ Michelangelo

Let’s assume our world as we know it crumbles. All the technology, elevators, ‘reality’ shows, and food trucks stop. No more electrical grid, fiat money-spitting machines, or Ben and Jerry’s ice cream kiosks in the mall. Our fragility catches up to us.

Those who make it through the reset are left to rebuild. But how? Even SmartPrepper’s stuff will eventually expire or be consumed. What then?

We’ll have to become producers. The most necessary stuff first. We all know the importance of water, food, and shelter. Do we have the skills, knowledge, and tools to enable us to produce these?

Oh yea, I’ve got all that stuff saved on my computer. Oops!

Below are three key areas that will greatly benefit from applying the subtraction solution before the reset occurs. Keep in mind that less is more and simple is better.


Open your copy of The Encyclopedia of Country Living. You do have this in your library, right? Bury your face in the pages. Breathe deeply. The scent of a bound book can’t be replaced or duplicated. I love the smell of a good book in the morning!

The Encyclopedia of Country Living

Below The Encyclopedia of Country Living is one of my 3-ring binders of how-to’s and such. Print hard copies of important stuff before the reset.

Now, try this exercise with your eReader, tablet, or smart phone. There’s an obvious in-your-face difference, something lost on moderns and our neo culture.

Time is the best method to determine what preps need to be chiseled away. Modern technology is young. And fragile. And I use it. I have apps that help me identify wild foods, survival techniques, and other need-to-know stuff.

But I’m not counting on electronic gadgetry to be around after the reset. If a thing is resilient, it will rebound from stressful events. If not, like all living or non-living fragile things, they will exit the gene pool or become useless paper weights.

Granted, resourceful folk have ways to charge all their gadgets for blackout events and emergencies. But don’t overlook the wise choice of hard copy, ink on paper, resources. They go long-term. And smell better!


Humans are tool-using animals. Our use of these tools separate us from other animals. Before Michelangelo turned granite blocks into angels, he needed the right tools.

Primitive technologies are time-tested. Something as simple as a wheel or lever fall out of favor in our modern mania. Mystified by flashes of light and cute ring back tones and shiny objects, we’ve traded non-fragile for fragile.

Here’s an article on 6 simple machines every SmartPrepper needs if you’d like a refresher.

Simple machines save labor. More importantly, time has proven them to be both useful and robust. The tools that survive are the ones that have been serving mankind for hundreds, even thousands of years.

I love my power tools. They save time and labor as well. Over the years I’ve tried to whittle away my dependence on these machines. What I’ve learned is that using simple hand tools ain’t so simple. They’re simple, but they take practice.

Hand tools you may want to start adding to your reset tool box include:

Woodworking: Hammers and mallets, chisels and knives, sharpening supplies, saws (rip, crosscut, miter, etc.), brace and bits, augers, rasps, planes, pliers and wrenches, screw drivers, measuring tools (steel carpenter’s square, tapes and rulers, try square, bevel), axes and adzes, drawknives and spokeshaves, levels (4 foot, 2 foot, and torpedo levels), and lots of hardware.

Bits for my brace. $10 at a yard sale!

Bits for my brace. $10 at a yard sale!

Timber harvesting: 2 man and one-man crosscut saws, felling axes, wedges, sledge-hammer, mauls for splitting, log-jack and peavy, and sharpening supplies.

buck saw

My buck saw and a small wash board. Clothes will get dirty using this tool.

Kitchen: Cast iron cookware, hand mills, containers of all kinds, knives, canning equipment and supplies, meat saws, butchering equipment, and hand-cranked meat grinders.

Metal working: Basic blacksmithing tools (forge, anvil, post vise, hammers (again), quench tub, tongs, punches, hacksaw, and files). Note: The ability to shape metal tools seems to have been delegated to China. It’s hard to find well made tools now. When and if you find a quality tool artisan, invest in his/her robust tools. Even better, learn to make your own.

Multi-use tools: Ratchet and socket sets, utility knives, adjustable wrenches, oil cans, allen wrenches, clamps and vises.

There’s many more tools to list, but in the spirit of subtracting, I’ll stop here.

Where to find tools: Flea markets, antique shops, yard and estate sales, swap meets, and farm auctions. If you want to buy new, spend some time online shopping at Lehman’s.


Cutting crappy people out of your masterpiece maybe the most difficult task, but it’s the most important. Dealing with crappy people is like carrying 179 pounds of s****t in a sack on your back. They drain your life of energy and attract flies.

This may come as a shock to some, but there are crappy people who are preppers, too. For the most part, I’ve only encounter a few of this variety. The one’s I’ve been unfortunate enough to meet are scary.

Avoid them like the plague. They will hurt you. Here’s my test to determine if someone is a crappy person and/or prepper. They exhibit the following:

  • It’s all about me attitude. They’re the center of the universe and your brain if you let them in.
  • They’re not F.A.T. – Faithful – Available – Teachable – they’re toxic. And the worst part is they think they are actually helpful and F.A.T.
  • They can be family, friends, coworkers, bosses.
  • If you’re a blogger, they show up as trolls in your comment section. They attach to you like ticks and drain your blood, energy, and creativity. You’ll never change their mind. So don’t try.

Erase them. Especially online, faceless trolls and haters. Resist the temptation to prove your point. If you jump in the fray, you’ve just proven their worth and stroked their ego. Even if you ‘win’ the battle, you’ll come out bloodied. Don’t waste your time.

When you stand back and look at your work of art, the useless shards of rock no longer hide your masterpiece. You’ll only see what belongs.

Add as many thoughts as you’d like in the comments. I promise not to subtract them.

Keep subtracting stuff strategically,



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Categories: Preparedness, Self-reliance | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

4 Bad Habits of Highly Productive Preppers

by Todd Walker

Are bad habits pulling you to the bottom of the prepping abyss?

Can you beat them?

The experts want you to ‘believe’ you can. You want to believe. The whole self-help universe wants you to believe. But you know yourself better than anyone. You know your bad habits, intimately.

Break them or you’re doomed. You’ll never survive anything doing those things!

Okay, that’s a little much.

But here’s my spin on ‘bad’ habits.

What if you could be an epic prepper, not in spite of bad habits, but because of them?

Many books tell you how to be a highly successful prepper. You gotta get your beans, bullets, and band aids in order, buy productive farm land, live of grid, fill up your basement with gold and silver and food, and build a tribe of like-minded people to help with all the unknowns ~ not to mention guard duty.

To achieve the apex of self-sufficiency, all your bad habits have to go. You must stay focused, set goals, stay physically fit, and learn everything – even the stuff that’s not important and you’ll never use.

If you’re a huge Steven Covey fan, you’ll want to stop reading here. Go ahead. Click away.

Still with me? Okay, you’ve been warned!

Greatly simplified procrastination flowchart: "Do something right now -> No"

(this clever flowchart was copied from

If you notice any of these 4 ‘bad’ habits in your journey to preparedness and self-reliance, stop beating yourself up over them. Learn to embrace them and let them do their job.

I have seen highly productive people benefit from these no-no’s in the business world and the preparedness community.

#1 – Shiny Object Syndrome (Distractibility)

You may have been diagnosed with ADHD in school. Bogus! I’ve never bought into this made up, money making psychological disorder.

First off, there’s no way to prove anyone has ADHD or any other psychological ailment. Psychologists suggest possible problems in your head, you stew on it a few days, weeks, years, and all of a sudden – WHAM! You’ve got ADHD.

Celebrate your faux ailment. Here are a few famous people who were diagnosed with ADHD (or displayed many of the alleged symptoms) that found a way to tap into their natural creativity, imagination, and sense of adventure to make history.

  • Richard Branson
  • Albert Einstein
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Thomas Edison
  • Suzanne Somers
  • Agatha Christie
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald

Good company indeed! You can be productive even with all the shiny objects vexing you!

Those 27 open tabs on your browser are actually a badge of honor! Don’t let non-Shiny Object Syndrome suffers tell you otherwise.

#2 – Too Giving and Sensitive

The image of sensitivity is not what comes to mind when we think of a rugged survivalist/prepper. We tend to get stereotyped as thick-skinned, uncaring, hoarders, and sometimes, down right nasty individuals.

Do some of us fit that description? Absolutely.

Non-prepper types may be tempted to lump you into that one-size-fits-all fringe. If you’re sensitive and not so thick-skinned, you may bristle and want to buck up to show your tougher side – online or in person. Resist the urge.

James Rawles (SurvivalBlog) does a great job of promoting charity and how to build giving, especially in tough times, into your preparedness plans. According to him, it’s not optional if you’re a Christian prepper.

And it’s not a sign that your weak because you’re sensitive and giving to the needs of others. Quite the opposite. Your ‘weakness’ becomes your strength.

#3 – Productive Procrastination

Here’s your morning prayer: “Please, Lord, make me more productive ~ just not today!”

I admire procrastinators. You know the ones I’m talking about. They’re constantly not doing the things that they ‘should’ be doing.

There is an element of putting off that works to your benefit – even in the preparedness community. Procrastination implies negative action (what you did not do). It’s the stuff we did not do that we’re suppose to feel shameful about. Even when we are working on something, we aren’t working on other stuff – projects or skills or duties or relationships. Most of us can only do one thing at a time.

We are all procrastinators. Even the most productive and efficient preppers put things off. It’s part of our nature. Our instinct. There’s no cure. It’s been argued that procrastination is a survival mechanism inherent in all of us.

Procrastination benefits us only when our life if not in danger. You don’t hesitate when your toddler is scampering toward a busy street. But not reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – NOW – won’t destroy your life.

Studies say that nearly 1 out of 5 adults practice chronic procrastination. For me, I use procrastination as a tool for doing the stuff. Here’s what I’ve learned from Procrasti-Nation:

  • New perspective, solutions and more efficient ways of doing the stuff.
  • Prioritized lists – the must do’s go in the small notebook – all others go in the larger notebook of projects.
  • Playing with the Shiny Objects in #1 frees my mind to create new ideas.
  • Balance procrastination with my obligations.
  • No shame in putting off.
  • Goals and objectives are moving targets. I don’t hit them all, and I don’t beat myself for missing.

The issue is not to figure out how to stop procrastinating, but to learn how to do it well. Sitting in a coffee shop ‘wasting time’ has led me to many great ideas and people. Being a slacker from time to time ain’t all bad.

The last sentence is not meant to give you license to put off the important stuff on your preparedness plan. Heed this warning: if procrastination halts progress completely on your plan, you know it’s in the unhealthy zone.

The real trick for me is knowing when Dirt Road Girl has had enough. 😉

#4 – Doubting Yourself

You’ve got questions. So do I. We get into trouble when our pride eclipses our self-doubt.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – an old philosopher

How could Socrates make such a bold, unequivocal, no holds barred, no wiggle room statement?

Questioning conventional wisdom, or the program that runs your life, causes you to grow personally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

While believing in yourself and your ability creates productive prepping, questioning yourself and plans is critical. A healthy (not fatal) dose of doubt slows you down and provides time to reflect (see #3).

Self-doubt is not navel gazing and pity parties. Questioning your plan of action, even in the middle of it, no, through the whole process, will help you hit those moving targets.

Having complete blind faith in myself is one trait that has left me in a crumpled, crying heap many times. If only I had honestly questioned my motives, tactics, and direction.

Your turn

Do you fall into any of these categories? All of them? What ‘bad’ habit(s) would you add to the list that helps you prepare?

Keep doing the stuff,



I’m expecting some updates from our Doing the Stuff Challenge last week. Of course, after this post, I’ll understand if you’re dragging your feet.

Don’t forget to ‘like‘ us on FB, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest if you haven’t already. DRG and I appreciate y’all a bunch!

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

13 Reasons to Use this Wicked Herbal Remedy

by Todd Walker

What if wicked chickens laid deviled eggs?

That’s probably not going to happen. But then again, Monsanto hasn’t tried – yet.

Either way, here’s a wicked sounding herbal remedy that you should consider adding to your home apothecary.

Witch Hazel

Image credit

Witch hazel is a common flowering shrub found in North America. The witchy name came about by its limbs being used in divining, dowsing, or witching for water. A dowser would use a witching wand made out of a stick or branch of witch hazel to find a vein of water underneath the earth. Finding water by witching is still used today.

This practice was considered witchcraft by some religious folk. Whatever your beliefs on witches and magic, this scary sounding plant actually offers many healing qualities.

Here’s 13 of the wicked good benefits of using witch hazel:

NOTE: Witch hazel tinctures made from the plant can be ingested in small amounts. However, the witch hazel on the drug store shelves contains isopropyl alcohol and should never be used internally.

A.) Acne. The leaves, twigs, and bark of the plant are loaded with tannins which act as an astringent. When applied to the skin they help tighten and dry skin.

B.) Hemorrhoids are a pain in the arse! Witch hazel is one of the main ingredients in Preparation H because it works so well to shrink blood vessels. When the SHTF and your run out of over the counter medication, this herbal remedy will be your bottom’s new best friend.

C.) Sore throat and laryngitis. Gargle with a mixture of WH and cloves to relieve and heal sore throats. Again, NOT the drug store kind!

D.) Teething babies with diaper rash. WH will help sooth both ends of your baby.

E.) Bruises, bumps, and sprains. Soak a cloth with WH and wrap it around a bruise overnight to reduce swelling and discoloration. Test your skins reaction before applying any new herbal remedy.

F.) Bleeding. Minor internal bleeding (ulcers and gums) can be treated with WH. Some doctors prescribe WH to help stop bleeding after surgery when appropriate.

G.) Cleanse wounds and reduce inflammation. On my last tattoo, I asked the my artist what he was applying on my tat. Witch hazel. It works as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Use WH on minor scrapes and cuts on your body.

H.) Diarrhea from stomach flu and irritated bowel. Make a sipping tea with WH. Add some mint for taste.

I.) Itchy skin. From poison ivy to sun burn, apply witch hazel to stop the itching. Bug and spider bites respond well to WH, too.

J.) Shaving aid. WH stops razor burn. Styptic pencils contain astringents and use the same properties found in WH to stop bleeding.

K.) Fever. Apply a damp cloth with WH to the forehead or back of the neck to help break a fever. I’ve never tried this, but lots of people swear by this trick.

L.) Swimmers ear. This one I’ve tried. As a kid, my brother and I spent lots of time in the water and got swimmers ear often. Mama would stick a cotton ball soaked in WH in our affected ear(s) to wick the moisture.

M.) Dry and cracked hands. Though it removes oils, the astringent properties also seal moisture in the skin. Use it on your hands when they begin to show signs of cracking from hoeing on your homestead.

Here are two DiY recipe for witch hazel extract: The Mountain Rose Blog and New Life on a Homestead if you’re interested.

Witch hazel is one of the few remaining American medicinal plants allowed by the FDA in over the counter drugs. Our earliest American pioneers knew the effectiveness of witch hazel for all manner of ailment and illness – even without the Food and Drug Administration’s stamp of approval. And they stocked it in their home apothecaries and covered wagons.

How about you? Got any good witch hazel stories? Share them if you’d like in the comment section.

Doing the stuff,



This information is solely for educational purposes. IT IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE.  I am not a licensed physician, just sharing information, folks. Do your own due diligence before using any herbal remedy.


Categories: Bushcraft, Herbal Remedies, Homeopathy, Medical, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Ladies ~ Taking Oprah’s Anti-Gun Advice is Just Plain Dumb

Not only has Karen De Coster been on the front lines battling tyranny for many years, she is solely responsible for introducing me to the Primal/Paleo lifestyle over three years ago. My hat is off to you, Karen, for pointing me to food freedom, life, and liberty!

For any Oprah-bots stumbling upon this – I’m preaching to the choir I hope – please read, get your government permission slip if you have to, acquire a firearm and training, and excommunicate yourself from O’s cult.

This article was originally published at and reprinted here with the author’s permission. Please checkout her bio and connect with Karen through her info below the article.

The Church of Oprah

Image credit

“No One Ever Needs to Carry A Gun”: Disciples of Oprah

by Karen De Coster

This is a statement that is often said to me to try and bait me into argument. I hear this from friends and acquaintances. Admittedly, it comes mostly from women (surprise, surprise). At gatherings, women just seem to want to bait me into arguing this topic, even when I haven’t even hinted at a discussion of the topic. My perception is that they are jealous of my self-sufficiency and radical independence, in addition to being bugged by the fact that I own guns and advocate for gun ownership and the right of self-defense via my writing. This is in addition to their Oprahized belief of the world that there really isn’t a lot of hate or crime, and when there is, odds are that it just won’t ever happen to them. That’s a nice, fluffy dream, ain’t it?

In the end, I walk away from these arguments because (1) we won’t change one another’s mind (2) we will strain our friendship or acquaintance, and (3) they are far less knowledgeable, learned, and researched on the topic as compared to me. So I turn and walk away from these philistine entrapment scenarios.

Other friends who do not agree with me on this topic just leave it alone – just as it should be. I have no desire to consistently defend my personal beliefs of the rights to self-defense in the company of friends. Luckily, not one person in my family is so stupid to ever utter such a thing to me because we all have the same philosophy about the right to life and freedom from aggression.

This story is a sick case of the loss of a loved human being due to a gang of animals with the two characteristics that make these people so dangerous: (1) they have nothing to lose, and (2) they are bored, and thus have way too much time on their hands to seek and engage conflict.

When he was walking out of the store, witnesses told police four teens jumped on him and began beating and kicking him and within two minutes he was shoved backwards onto the five lane road, pushed to the ground and knocked unconscious.

A passing car hit him.

When one has connections to the local news, as I do, you see the oodles of violent crime within your little suburban enclave that most people never, ever hear about: bank robberies; rapes and armed robberies in parking lots of major retail stores; small store robberies; carjackings; home invasions; and attacks on people walking or driving alone. A recent local crime occurred in a Kohl’s parking lot at 2pm, where a woman was raped, and folks just walked by without taking any action whatsoever.

But according to the disciples of Oprah, nothing ever happens to them. So accordingly, nothing will ever happen to you, so … why do you need to carry a gun? As a self-defense instructor put it to me – you carry a gun and know how to use it because you want to make it home tonight.

Joshua didn’t make it home. But the dedicated Oprah Philosophers will remind you that it never happens to you. Only those people in the news who are far removed from your reality. Happy dreams, people.

Author’s bio: Karen De Coster, CPA is an accounting/finance professional in the healthcare industry and a freelance writer, blogger, speaker, and sometimes unpaid troublemaker. She follows a Primal/Paleo lifestyle. She writes about libertarian stuff, economics, financial markets, the medical establishment, the Corporate State, health totalitarianism, and other essentially, anything that encroaches upon the freedom of her fellow human beings. When she has a few moments of spare time she engages functional fitness, adventure cycling, photography, conversations with friends, and visiting wine regions. Check out her website. Follow her on Twitter @karendecoster.

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Self Defense, Tyranny | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

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