Investing/Tangibles

SmartPrepper Mason Jar Kerosene Lamps

by Todd Walker

mason jar oil lamps

Pint and quart mason jars transformed into oil lamps.

Three years ago I read a Survival Blog article about a company selling brass plated burners, wicks, and globes that convert a standard canning jar into an oil lamp.

Dirt Road Girl and I had already planned a trip to the mountains that year when I discovered the North Carolina company was on the same road we were traveling.

We dropped in.

Southern Lamp and Supply is run by two brothers working out of an old metal building on the side of the road with wall to wall lamps, wicks, and other preparedness lighting needs. They don’t see many walk-in customers. Since we weren’t wearing UPS brown, the first bearded brother we saw asked if he could help us. We could tell he thought we were lost and looking for directions to a more exotic destination.

I assured him we weren’t lost and said we saw his lamps on Survival Blog.

“Ah, yes. We’ve been swamped with orders since we got mentioned there,” he said with a slight grin.

I asked if he had any left. He told us to wait over by the paper-cluttered counter top supporting a computer as he wound his way deep into the isles of his dusty storehouse.

He returned a few minutes later with a couple of boxes. He opened the box tops that had been folded shut.

“How many you folks want?”

We walked out with 10 mason jar cap burners, wicks included, extra wicks, and 10 hooded glass chimneys. My memory may not be that accurate, but I think we paid under $40 for everything. That was 3 years ago with no shipping.

Now you can make an emergency oil lamp in 5 minutes with a mint tin, cotton twine, and olive oil. They’re functional and, as DRG says, just so cute.

DiY olive oil lamp

DiY olive oil lamp

 

But for long-term use, you might want to have several sturdy, dependable, oil lamps available. We pick them up at yard sales when we find them.

We gave away mason jar burner lamps as gifts to family. The rest is in our emergency lighting supply cabinet.

What’s great about these lamps is their inexpensive and screw securely on mason jars. I just checked their website and the burners run three bucks and the glass chimneys cost $7.95 each.

This a great way to add emergency lighting to your preps. They’d also make great barter items.

SmartPrepper Tip: Stock up on kerosene and lamp oil before the herd strips store shelves bare. As always, if any open flame is forced into service in your home, use extra caution – especially with young children. Be sure to place lit lamps on a stable elevated surface.

Keep Doing the Stuff,

Todd

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Categories: Barter, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Frugal Preps, Investing/Tangibles, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 21 Comments

Anti-Fragile Strategies for SmartPreppers

by Todd

Is the term antifragile new to you?

Our modern world is built on fragile systems. Systems that get worse, not better, with the smallest of stressors. Technology is a wonderful and scary tool. Systems get hacked. Bugs cause chaos. And it all depend on our power grid.

Think about our ‘just in time’ food delivery system, transportation, municipal water, medicine, banks, and even our governmental system. All are delicately fragile.

The lights are on, gas is in the car, food in the fridge, and your baby is healthy. A small glitch or hiccup in ‘normal’ can disrupt your comfort level. When a regional natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy hits, our modern systems become worthless. God help us if disaster ever struck country or world-wide.

Living life is messy even in ‘normal’ conditions. That’s why the preparedness minded work to simplify systems and build redundancy. How do we know if our plan will hold up to the stress of what’s coming? It would be wise to create controlled stressors in normal times to gauge your anti-fragility before all hell breaks loose.

The Problem with Linear-Life-Thinking

Life is not linear. Doing the stuff to prepare and respond to life’s ups and downs will determine whether you survive, thrive, or die. Self-sufficiency never arrives by accident. It’s built through choices. We haven’t left the rat race entirely. Like the rest of you regular guys/gals, DRG and I still have to pay the bills.

Over a year ago, we experienced our own personal SHTF situation. Dirt Road Girl was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. As you might imagine, we were devastated. Suddenly, one thing mattered. Survival!

Due to DRG’s attitude,  prayers from family and friends, and a second opinion from a wise doctor, she’s bouncing back and taking full advantage of her second chance at life. She’s more than resilient. She’s becoming antifragile.

She’s a shining example of what ‘doing the stuff’ is all about. Her fighting spirit motivates me – stops my complaining – causes me to be more honest with myself – teaches me to laugh at life… and death – makes me embrace both my mortality and immortality.

Building an Antifragile Life

No shame in failure – try again – and fail again. Caroline Cooper used the term ‘antifragile’ in an email to me recently. What a great word! It comes from Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder, a book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

“Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.” [Emphasis mine]

This is not a book review since I’ve not read his book yet. Anti-fragility is what I’ve been promoting on this blog without being aware of the term. (I’m ordering his book today).

How can becoming antifragile make our preparations and life better?

Let’s see, we live in a fragile system/world.  A SHTF event, personal or otherwise, will happen. It shakes us to our core. Our foundation is compromised. Paradigms are destroyed. What you thought would work doesn’t. The ‘plan’ and the ‘backup plan’ fail. The map you were told to follow leads you to a bridge to nowhere.

What do you do next?

The SmartPrepper builds anti-fragility. Strategies that gain from disorder and disaster.

Here are some antifragile strategies to get you thinking.

1.) Economics: Decrease your exposure in the fragile banking system as much as possible. A hundred years ago our Federal Reserve (private central bank) started a stupid system that can’t withstand shock. Our fractional reserve banking is too big to fail. Their rules don’t apply to the individual – you and me. If individuals make stupid mistakes, we get immediate results. Failure is a great teacher.

Antifragile Strategy: Invest in tangibles. Productive land, skills, natural health, quality tools, precious metals, and stuff you can’t make on your own.  Having the ability to produce potable water may be more valuable gold. You can’t drink gold.

2.) Community: We live in a global community whether we like it or not. Stuff happens in China and we feel it in main street America. Globalization means the problems we face are too big to understand and fix. Government leaders, no matter what their party affiliation, can’t solve problems for you and your family.

Antifragile Strategy: You are the answer for your problems. But you can’t do it alone. You need local community no matter how self-sufficient you’ve become. A bunker mentality will not save you.

Start by building antifragile systems and skills locally – produce real food (even with limited space), make your home a producer instead of a consumer (rain collection systems, alternative and sustainable energy, etc.), buy locally grown real food, and support local producers.

3.) Education: Let me be clear. ‘Education’ is not referring to school. Schools do one thing very well – schooling. Schools are the last places on earth to learn anti-fragility. Students are not allowed to explore their interests. There’s simply not enough time and the overseers can’t allow individualism to take root. Schools are just another too-big-to-fail, propped up government institution that is wildly successful at failure.

“Children do not need to be made to learn about the world or shown how. They want to, and they know how.” – John Holt

[And it won’t happen through schooling – me]

Antifragile Strategy: Follow your interests! Homeschooling/unschooling allows your children to follow their passions. Just like any other investment, there are sacrifices that must be made to achieve the desired result.

John Taylor Gatto once said, “Genius is as common as the air we breath.” Schools are not structured to allow genius to be developed. If that’s true with kids in school, the same goes for you as a life learner. Keep learning. Avoid the cookie-cutter mentality of  factory schooling – for you and your children’s future. Build skills, then get educated.

4.) Take Risks and Keep Doing the Stuff: Anti-fragility places high value on doing over just thinking. Risk failure. Fail. Try it again. Get it right.

Is this stressful? Indeed! There are no shortcuts to becoming antifragile. There’s no ‘safe’ place. We want to insulate our children from danger. That’s noble to a certain point. But we’ve crossed over into dangerous territory when our protection is smothering. Helicopter parenting, if you will.

Taking risks is an American thing to do. That’s how we built this country. Maybe my view is tainted somewhat from teaching, but I see a growing number of kids that have had risk erased from their lives through government education and helicopter parenting. Free-range kids learn to deal with risks, survive stressors, and gain from their experience.

Antifragile Strategy: Now is the time to practice doing the stuff before an event forces you. I’m a huge proponent of testing gear, knowledge, attitude, and abilities. This alone will prepare you for those pesky unknown unknowns. Even doing the stuff now won’t guarantee success when it counts. But it will greatly increase the odds in your favor when disorder and volatility show up on your doorstep.

Self-imposed stressors help gauge your anti-fragility. Knowledge may weigh nothing, but until you start doing the stuff, your book knowledge won’t matter. There’s a big gap between reading a how-to on blacksmithing and actually hammering hot steel into a useful object.

Here’s some of the ways to start doing the antifragile stuff. Note: Doing this stuff is for healthy people who want to stress their system in a natural, healthy way.

Physical Stuff

  • Part of your plan may be to grab your Bug Out Bag and walk to a pre-determined location if need be. We do what we practice. At least once a week, sometimes more, DRG and I do our B.O.B. workout. That is, we strap on our fully loaded backpacks (72 hour go-bags) and hike around our town and neighborhood (about 3 or 4 miles). If you’ve got a B.O.B. laying in your closet that you’ve never carried, try it. You might find your hips and legs need more practice doing this stuff. We’re not sure if we’d ever need to bug out, but it’s comforting to know we could physically if we had to. [Tip: Don’t go all Rambo on your outings. Blend in as much as possible. You’re simply conditioning for your summer hiking trip.]
Bug Out Bag Monday workouts

B.O.B. Monday workout! Notice the SmartPrepper apparel🙂

  • Stress your body. Anyone that’s hung out here knows that I’m not a fan of conventional workouts (repetitive, boring gym workouts). My plan involves lifting heavy things, moving slowly daily (walking), and sprinting (max effort) once a week. It’s not rocket science. Move in a way that builds functional fitness. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check the Brick House Workout here. Keep your body in a state of randomness.
  • Polar dip. That’s right. Taking a dip in a cold water stresses your system. I also take cold showers regularly in the hot months – and occasionally in the winter. There’s nothing like diving into the lake at the Dam Cabin in November, climbing out shivering, and warming up by the camp fire. Sound crazy? You may be surprised at the health benefits. I’m not suggesting you turn your hot water heater into a bar-b-que grill. Just test the cold water to see if it works for you.
  • Get grounded. Three years ago I removed the casts (running shoes) from my feet. Now I run in my birthday shoes. My students think I’m nuts. They wonder if I ever step in dog poop – their biggest concern. Barefoot running has taken the stress off my joints, improved my balance, and strengthened my feet and ankles. If you’re considering an unshod run, be smart and invest some time in research. Begin here. Even if you never run ‘naked’, loose the shoes and walk in your yard. Feel the grass/weeds between your toes. There are free health benefits to putting your sole on the ground (earthing).

Food Stuff

  • Intermittent Fasting:  IF has many benefits other than weight loss. Here’s a IF resource I’ve put together if you’re interested. Skipping meals may one not be optional one day.
  • Variety: Try new food. Shock you system with occasional wild foods and fermented food. Heck, just stop eating processed junk will send healthy shock waves through the Standard American’s Diet.
  • Eat the real stuff: Eating real food is now trendy and revolutionary. We call it organic. It’s really the nutrient dense foods that our grandparents cooked from scratch before our wonderful industrial food machine destroyed our eats. Buying (if you can’t grow your own) local naturally raised or organic plants and animals not only makes you healthy, it your community antifragile.

System Stuff

  • Water. Can’t do without this stuff. What’s your system for acquiring H2O? Depending on your city/county to deliver potable water after an event is fragile thinking. Build an antifragile system that improves your life.
  • Security. Dialing 911 is an option if your life is threatened. But know that you’re beholden to a response time that may be too late. Take your security into your own hands. ‘Nuff said.
  • Waste. Okay, this is a dirty subject, but… I don’t think many of us give it a second thought. When the Sh*t Hits The Fan, what do you do with the brown stuff? We take for granted that our toilet handle will always handle the job and paper work. If our fragile system fails, what’s your plan to eliminate your waste? Outhouse or 5 gallon bucket and a Sears and Roebuck catalog? You may want to look into some type of composting toilet. Just saying.
  • Networking. Building relationships with other antifragile people increases your chances of surviving stressors. You won’t need to just borrow a cup of milk from your nurse neighbor post-collapse, she’d be sewing up that gash in your foot from a glancing blow at the firewood shed. Neighboring and networking now is the antifragile thing to do to avoid the rush.

Alright, your turn. What systems and strategies do you recommend for anti-fragility? See you in the comments!

P.S.

However you got here, make yourself at home! You can connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest if you’d like.

 

Categories: Investing/Tangibles, Natural Health, Preparedness, Real Food, SHTF | Tags: , , , | 25 Comments

5 Must Do’s Before the National Nipple Runs Dry

by Todd Walker

I hate labels. I’ve spent the better part of my adult life dodging bumper sticker nomenclature.

Prepping, survivalism, back to basics, resilience, self-reliance, sustainable, self-sufficient, homesteading, simple living, etc. all have a common philosophy: Taking responsibility for you own life. I wrote about chasing the simple life here. Sherpa Simple is…

Living in a way that is economical, sustainable, individualized, self-sufficient, comfortable, practical, resilient, and in harmony with nature and neighbors. It’s all about helping each other as we chase the simple life.

Weaning ourselves off the National Nipple requires time, energy, self-education, and force in some cases. And here’s the thing – the more we drink, the more we believe that the State udder will never stop flowing. We become addicted. Suckling becomes a basic right.

Buzzers Image Ana Ivanovic Nipple

This is what the National Nipple will do for you

“Once the government becomes the supplier of people’s needs, there is no limit to the needs that will be claimed as a basic right.”

— Lawrence Auster

Even if you’re thumping your chest with pride for never wrapping your proverbial lips around the golden udder, we’re all affected by the overwhelming dependency bred into our culture. The State is the great equalizer dispensing fairness for the collective good. This arrangement is not voluntary. It’s sustained by force. “Legitimate” force.

If you knew the day our National Nipple would run dry, wouldn’t you live differently. It’s not a matter of if, but when. And ‘when’ happens, there will be more than a bit of bawling and screaming. Everyone will fill the pain – your elderly parents on medicare and fixed incomes, your neighbor working in the public sector, all the public school teachers (and there are a lot of us), owners of stocks and bonds, retired veterans, everyone. I’m not even counting those totally dependent government for food, houses, and cell phones. The reset will happen.

How could it not. The truth behind the recovery propaganda should cause some of us to begin self-weaning. The feral Federal Reserve will continue the train wreck by printing more fiat paper. The productive class will continue to shrink. It’s becoming more and more difficult for middle class families to provide basic necessities, much less save for that rainy day.

Retirement looks further away by the minute. The elites keep sending their handlers back to the kitchen to cook more numbers to keep the herd happy. Does this make me vigilant and awake or a conspiracy theorist?

You decide. Search economic collapse for yourself. Here’s a small sampling to get you started:

•             Personal Incomes & The Decline Of The American Saver

•             Comparing the past to predict the future

•             A chart proving that the MSM is lying about unemployment

The picture painted is scary. As people come up for air while nursing on the National Nipple, there may be some that begin to wean themselves. For those of you already standing back from the feeding frenzy, you need to get into high gear with your preparedness plan.

You may think I’m hardnosed or uncaring by my next statement. I prefer a sudden reset over a long, drawn out collapse. I never liked tip-toeing into our cold lake. I found jumping in head-first to best for me. My body adapted to the shock of cold water better with total immersing. Let me clarify. I’d prefer no collapse at all. But that ain’t happening.

You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again.  — Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The list of nations spiraling towards collapse is growing. What steps should Joe and Jane Average take now to build a hedge against financial Armageddon? This is not a step-by-step plan. It requires thought, creativity, and determination – no matter what your financial status. To answer the previous question, do what we know is the right thing to do. Simplify. Less is more. ‘Less’ dependence on the fragile systems of mono-crop corporate farming, fractional reserve banking, and our ‘sick’ care medical establishment.

Building resilience in these areas one step at a time will only increase your chances of survival. And may actually help you thrive.

While this list is not exhaustive, it points us in the right direction.

Food

Grow your own or buy from local farmers. Doing this will accomplish several things:

  • Strengthen your local food system. These producers live where you live. Small family owned and operated farms will contribute to your overall health and resilience in return.
  • Reconnect with your food and community. Build relationship with food producers that don’t live 2,000 miles from your house. Better to meet them now than after the balloon goes up.
  • Save resources. The amount of packaging material and fuel is drastically reduced by purchasing/bartering for groceries you can’t produce for yourself. Find farmers that practice sustainable growing practices.
  • Education. Many local farmers/producers are happy to help you learn how to grow your own. Plus, you’ll begin to know where your food comes from.
  • Food storage you’ll actually eat. When you preserve the harvest from you garden or local farmer’s market, you’re putting away food that you’ll actually enjoy eating and not some pre-packaged, processed items or MRE resembling food. Dehydrating, canning, and proper storage techniques will go a long way in supplying your family with stores of food for the long run.

Health Vigilante – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

  • 90% of what we eat is the cause of our chronic health conditions.
  • Be your own health vigilante. Take your health into your own hands. This past year taught DRG and me that modern medicine is run by pharmaceutical companies. There’s a chemical soup in pill form for everything.
  • Explore holistic health practices.
  • Eat nutrient dense foods. Avoid processed junk foods. I recommend the Primal Lifestyle. Your mileage may vary.
  • Regular exercise without being married to the gym. Develop a mindset of functional fitness. Lift heavy things, move slowly every day, and sprint (max capacity) once every 7 to 10 days.

Invest in assets and skills

  • By assets, I mean tangible items that hold value. Look up Alpha Strategy. That case of ammo you bought last year was a good investment after all. 
  • Focus on your strengths. You’ve got one or two skills that you’re very good at. Develop those even more. But don’t forget to add more resilience-adding skills to your toolbox.
  • Barter is becoming more important these days. It may one day be a crucial skill for acquiring basic necessities.
  • Learn permaculture. Hiding food in plain sight.

 Build Community

  • Most of us don’t live in a rural homestead self-sufficiently. We live mostly in urban and suburban neighborhoods. Your neighbors will play a huge part in your families ability to survive and thrive in coming days. I’ve written some thoughts on the importance of neighboring here
  • With proper planning and the existence of basic resources, your neighborhood is very defensible and livable in SHTF scenarios. More on this in a later post.

Housing – Living big in small places

  • Learning to live big in small places (locally) means re-educating ourselves on what resilience really means.
  • Simplifying your life gets rid of all the clutter. If you’re like me, that’s a hard thing to do. Letting go of things I’m going to do something with one day. It forces me to really evaluate what’s important. Prioritizing my stuff allows me more free time to focus on what’s really important.
  • Consider downsizing your home. We’ve downsized twice since the housing bubble popped. Talk about freeing up time!

I’m aware there are many more must do’s before the National Nipple runs dry. This is intended to spark a discussion on adding to our list. Please feel free to comment on the list and add your valuable insight. Or email me your thoughts via the contact tab at the top of my blog.

Follow me on Twitter for the latest on our journey to self-reliance, preparedness, and resilient living: @SurvivalSherpa

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Barter, Canning, Economic Collapse, Food Storage, Frugal Preps, Functional Fitness, Homeopathy, Homesteading, Investing/Tangibles, Permaculture, Preparedness | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

Top 5 Resilience Resolutions with Homework Assignments for 2013

by Todd Walker

What a year!

Pic credit

January 12, 2012 is etched in our memory, hearts, family, and bodies. Fear in her voice was relayed as I held the phone. “They found a mass in my lung,” she said. Four days later it was official. Dirt Road Girl was diagnosed with cancer in her lung and brain. The past 12 months was like riding the Scream Machine for the first time – with no seat belt or safety bar to hold us in the roller coaster. The good news is that DRG has made amazing progress in her fight for life.

We prepare for the unknown unknowns as best we can. This is the time of the year people usually make resolutions as to what they are going to stop doing or start doing. Out with the bad habits and in with the new, good habits. I’m no longer a big fan of goal setting. I prefer a life theme. Goals have always been an act of implementation. Start – work – achieve – now what? Once the target is met, there is a great sense of accomplishment usually. However, in my experience, goal setting seems to be less effective than adopting a lifestyle theme. It’s an individual choice. YMMV.

With the approaching new year, I go into reflection mode and tweak my theme. What did I do right last year? How can I improve our life in the new year?

There’s so much doom and gloom in the main stream media: Fiscal cliff, school shootings, never-ending wars, unemployment, and talk of gun confiscation. DRG’s journey has taught me that we aren’t guaranteed today, tomorrow, or next year. We’ve always given lip service to that fact. But how do we start living it, practicing it, and owning it?

I hated homework in school. That’s why I don’t assign any to my students. “You’re a bad teacher, Mr. Walker!” Really? Homework is designed to take up valuable time that could be used by students to pursue something that really interests them. Following their interest is how they discover learning and not just studying to pass some silly state standardized test.

Here is my top 5 list of ways to prepare for the new year. I’m going to break my No-Homework rule and give each of you a simple assignment. By the way, it’s for a grade. Extra credit if you share it with someone else.

1.) Health

Diets are not sustainable. Most diets aren’t even healthy. Once the bathroom scale stops screaming for relief and the mirror smiles at your naked body, how do you maintain the new you?

This is a foundational theme for our family. I think it was Ben Franklin who was credited with saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is never more true than when it comes to our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. More and more evidence shows the link between our eating and health. You are what you eat. The S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) is recommended by the government food pyramid and most prepper experts. The strategy to store food for disasters and end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenarios is smart. If you’ve followed my blog at all, you already know my beef with SAD food storage.

The prepper community, like most Americans, bought the lie about high fat, low carb eating plans. I had a receipt for my purchase until three years ago. If simply surviving is you goal, spend your cash on all the SAD foods you can afford to cache. Just remember that pesky notion about being what we eat. Why not adopt a new theme – a natural, healthy, unconventional lifestyle – for the new year. 2013 may force us all to prepare like cavemen. Go ahead and get a jump on the herd.

Homework Assignment: Dust the chalk board erasers, forget everything you’ve been taught about “healthy diets,” and take a 30 day challenge (heck, just try it for 21 days) – and report back with your results.

  • Mark’s Daily Apple – Mark Sisson helps you follow the Primal Blueprint with help of “worker bees” and real community of primal lifestylers.
  • The Organic Prepper – Daisy Luther offers practical advice on healthy prepping and low-tech solutions. We’ve featured several of her articles here.
  • Bug Out Nutrition – A blog that applies the science of nutrition to survival.
  • Mercola.com – Dr. Joseph Mercola’s excellent natural health website.

2.) Learn Liberty. Free Your Mind. Take the red pill.

Homework Assignment: Your reading and viewing assignments are listed below:

  • Watch The Matrix. Rent it. Buy it. Watch it.
  • LewRockwell.com. Visit regularly.
  • Stop watching mainstream propaganda news for 30 days. I stopped 5 years ago. Ditched talk radio too. Here are a few of the alternative news sources I read regularly.
  1. LewRockwell.com
  2. Zero Hedge
  3. Eric Peters Auto
  4. Living Freedom
  5. Before It’s News – They publish my RSS feed under “Self-Sufficiency”

3.) Build Tribe. Even if the gun-grabbers don’t get their unconstitutional bill passed, I’ve made this a priority. I met a gentleman a week ago to buy a tool for DRG. We made the transaction and I noticed the welding machine on his truck. He builds safes and safe-rooms. He also builds some very cool steel targets for pistol and rifle practice. I’d like to buy the welding machine from him. But I’ll have to settle for a few targets. Once I try them out I’ll post a review. By meeting this stranger, we found we have a lot in common. We plan on eating lunch together soon.

Coming in contact with others that you’d like to build tribe with sometimes happens accidentally. Other times I initiate the contact. I’ve got a meeting with a fellow blogger next week to begin building tribe. I’ve followed his blog for a while now and like how he thinks. Don’t forget your neighbors.

Homework Assignment: Approach at least one person outside your immediate family about building mutual assistance, relationship, and tribe. Use common sense. Don’t ask the first stranger in line at the grocery store to be in your tribe.

4.) Build Resilience. Resilience is defined by Dictionary.com as:

1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.
2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.
I get the feeling in my gut that we will all be bent, compressed, and stretched in 2013. Not really a gut feeling. Reality is staring us in the face. I’m no financial wizard or mystic. I’m just a simply country boy at heart. Even simple folk like me can see the handwriting on the wall – even without watching the propaganda robots on TV.

Our plan to build resilience doesn’t just include our family’s needs. We understand that a resilient community (physical location) opens many avenues to preparedness. See building Tribe above. Every step we take this year to become more self-reliant builds more resilience. Will it be enough? Probably not. But we’re one step closer – plus, we enjoy the journey.

Pic credit

Practical Steps To Becoming Resilient

  • Contact local farmer’s markets, food co-ops, and farmers. Here’s a unique approach to buying locally – Locally Grown. It started about 12 years ago as the first online farmers market. Unlike other co-ops, buying clubs, or CSAs where everyone gets the same box of stuff (and you don’t know what you’re getting until you get it), with Locally Grown you get to order what you want, in the quantities that you want, from the farms that you want. If you don’t see a market close to you and you know one or more growers ready to sell their products, you can create your own new market! Also, try Eat Wild, or Local Harvest. Also, do a little cowpooling to help keep cost down.
  • Hone your skills and build your kits in these key areas:
  1. Potable Water. Have as many methods of making and storing potable water as possible. I’m not going into how-to details here. There’s plenty of info on the net and books on how to do this stuff. Dependent on “city water” (as Daddy calls it) leaves many high and dry when grid-down disasters strike. Even if you have “country well water”, it won’t pump itself out of the ground. You may be ahead of the game and have an alternative pumping method (hand pump, solar, hydroelectric, etc.). We own a Berkey filter for our home and portable MRS filter for our G.O.O.D. bags. Options are plentiful.
  2. Food. Eating happens. Store stuff you already eat. Most of us can’t or don’t know how to grow all our fruits and vegetables. But even a few patio tomato plants is one step towards building resilience. It may seem difficult to store nutrient-dense, healthy food, but it’s really not. Click here for my plan.
  3. Band Aids. The medical aspect of preparedness is overwhelming to me. Beyond basic first aid, I defer to others with real skills.
  4. Protection. This isn’t all about bullets. Guns are tools in my kit that have redundant purposes. The recent run on battle rifles and full capacity magazines shows the psyche of Americans. They’re securing their liberty with each ammo and gun purchase. This can’t escape notice of TPTB. The protection category also includes investing in tangibles that will only go up in value as the dollar crashes. Purchasing items now that will help you become a producer is a wise hedge against the unknowns.
  • Be A Connector. This dovetails with building community. For the non-introverts, this comes easy. The digital age has opened so many opportunities to network. No matter what you’re interested in, its easy to find like-minded people willing to do the stuff with you.

Homework Assignment: Locate one source of locally produced meat and vegetables available to you. Extra credit if you raise your own meat/protein/veggie.

5.) Build Barter Networks. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. With the economy in a tailspin, bartering has become more common. Many forums and websites have established local barter networks. When bartering, trade value for value. A hair cut wouldn’t be of any value to me, since I shave my head. But there might be a service the local barber has to offer that I need.

In my latest hard-copy edition of Backwoods Home Magazine, John Silveira wrote an article called, “Bartering for bad times.” Click here for the online version. He covers physical barter items such as food, seeds, silver and gold, ammo, garden tools, tobacco, booze, medical marijuana, coffee, water, and solar power. You don’t have a stockpile of these items to trade? Try trading your skills.

What skills/services can you offer to improve the quality of life for others who have stuff you need? I’m not a plumber by trade, but the skills my daddy taught me growing up are in demand now and will continue into the next Great Depression. Mr. Silveira recommends the following useful skills for trading value:

  • Barber
  • Poker
  • Repairing stuff
  • Gardening
  • Tutoring
  • Fuel for heating
  • Clothes: Making and Mending
  • Caregiver: Babies and Elderly

I really like what Alt-Market promotes and purses. Their mission is “to facilitate networking, local community action, and the exchange of knowledge and ideas. We promote decentralization, localism, and the de-globalization of human economic systems. We aim to work with and support local economies, markets, barter networks, and farmers cooperatives; and to promote alternative currencies and monetary systems.”

Homework Assignment: Transact one or more barter exchanges in the month of January.

This kind of free market trade is something that the Feds hate and want to control. Trading value for value voluntarily, between consenting parties is a skill we should all learn…sooner, than later.

What are you’re ideas for resilience in 2013?

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Barter, Economic Collapse, Investing/Tangibles, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Death of the Nickel: A Hoarding Strategy

Source: LewRockwell.com

Storing Nickels

by David Hathaway

Are you doing due diligence with nickels? As many LRC readers know, nickels are the only real “money” being distributed by the U.S. Government at this point in time. The value of the metal in a nickel equals the fiat value assigned to it by the state. This cannot be said about the currently produced pennies, dimes, quarters, or half dollars and certainly cannot be said about the paper money or the even more insidious and plentiful computer digit money that we are forced to use. Nickels are uniformly marked, impractical to counterfeit, and easily recognizable for their metallic content (75% copper, 25% nickel).

So, is it really that easy to get real money in exchange for the worthless stuff floating around? Yes, it still is. You walk into a bank, hand the teller a 20-dollar bill, and walk out with 10 rolls of nickels. There is no dealer markup. There is no sales tax. There are no shipping fees. There is no capital gains tax or value added tax. It almost seems impossible in this day and age. It soon will be impossible. We are temporarily in an era with nickels that is analogous to the pre-1965 silver coinage period. Coin composition is slated to changeduring the 2013 fiscal year. So, what are the issues that would preclude a person from taking advantage of the inevitable increase in the value of nickels when compared to the fiat dollar? Well, there is one small issue and one slightly bigger issue. The small issue is obtaining the nickels and the bigger issue is storage. Both issues can be resolved fairly easily for most people. First, let’s look at the smaller issue.

You don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot when obtaining nickels; not to mention your fellow hard-money brethren who are doing the same thing. Don’t go into a bank and make a grandiose gesture by asking to speak to the branch manager and discussing the bulk acquisition of $1000 or $10,000 worth of nickels. I have read articles where people proudly describe the incredulous looks they get from the bank employees and the follow-up questions administered by the bank staff from such an action. These articles usually include a description of how they schooled the bank employees about how the customer was hoarding nickels as a hedge against inflation. Don’t have this conversation with the bank. You don’t want to be the source of new bank policy restricting the acquisition of coinage. Some banks may charge a percentage for obtaining coins but, most still don’t. With nickels it is still so easy.

You need to have a systematic outlook. What you do is always lay down a 20 dollar bill and ask for 20 dollars in nickels. No more. That’s all. Make this fit into your lunch break at work, your commute, your exercise routine, or your shopping routine. You can go to one, two, or three banks fairly quickly. Don’t get the coins using your debit card or a check. Keep it to a simple hand-to-hand cash transaction. You don’t want multiple computer entries showing up on your bank account at different bank branches 10 minutes apart. It looks like you are doing something. Banks look for patterns and they will ask more questions. You aren’t doing anything wrong but, once again, you don’t want to make waves. You want to be able to continue getting your nickels. Giving out $20 in coins is no big deal to a major bank but, retailers that get coinage regularly usually do have to pay extra for the privilege. Small account holders and even non-account holders are usually given “small” amounts of pre-rolled coinage in exchange for paper currency as a courtesy at no charge. You want to be in the small customer “courtesy” realm on this issue. Being in a slightly bigger town is a plus but, not essential. If you happen to be on a lengthier shopping trip or road trip, you can get $20 worth of nickels ten times fairly quickly at ten different banks. Remember, you don’t want to be responsible for the issuance of new restrictive policies within your local banking world. Banks talk to each other. They go to conferences. If only a few guys in a town of a million people are trying to get large quantities of nickels on each transaction, the word will get out and policies will change.

You won’t believe how quickly you acquire nickels at this rate. You quickly get in and out of the bank since you are not doing account-related transactions. You get 400 nickels each time you hand over a 20-dollar bill. The transaction usually takes less than a minute. If you do this twice every day on your lunch break, you will have nickels coming out of your ears. Don’t try to do it at a quicker rate. You will end up causing problems.

The second issue, which is really the point of this article, is the storage of your nickels. One of the first rules for obtaining and storing metal as a hedge against inflation is to take possession of the metal yourself and to not trust someone else to store it for you. A warehouse receipt can be next to worthless in a hyperinflationary environment and is subject to the same type of mishandling that has been seen in metal futures, ETFs, and other paper forms of metal. Nickels do present a challenge for storage but, the challenge is not insurmountable.

Green military style ammo cans are a very tempting solution. They have one serious drawback. They look valuable. That wall of ammo cans in your basement really looks like a stash of something worth stealing. The larger size (generically called .50 caliber ammo cans) are too heavy when filled with nickels. The smaller size is easier to handle. They weigh about 35 pounds when filled. They hold about 88 rolls. Each roll contains $2 face value of nickels. So, you are preserving about $176 face value of nickels in one ammo can. To get up into multiple thousands of dollars, you will have quite a wall of ammo cans. They get harder and harder to conceal. They won’t fit in a floor safe or that hollow brick like your gold coins do.

So, what’s the answer? After years of experimenting, I have found the perfect solution. Home Depot sells pre-cut 24-inch sections of thick walled 4-inch black ABS pipe. They also sell the 4 inch ABS end caps and ABS cement. This combination makes a perfect long-term burial solution. The ABS cement causes a reaction to occur that is the chemical equivalent of welding the plastic end caps on by chemically softening, melting, and then permanently binding the adjoining surfaces of the two plastic pipe fittings together. PVC pipe also works. The nickels will last for decades in pristine condition underground when stored in these pipes.

I had an occasion to dig up 10 pipes recently containing a total of 560 pounds of nickels that had been buried for three years. The store bar-code stickers hadn’t even come off the pipes yet. The pipes with the caps glued on with the ABS cement still looked brand new. Each of these pipes holds 122 rolls of nickels on average. The pipes weigh about 56 pounds when finished. I have found that drilling a tiny hole with a small drill bit aids with pushing on the final cap since the glue makes the caps airtight and the air pressure makes it hard to push the second cap on. The air relief hole allows the cap to slide on easily before the cement binds the parts together permanently. The small hole can then be filled with ABS cement to make the pipe watertight. To get the nickels out, you will have to cut the pipe open with a saw.

After preparing multiple pipes, dig a trench. It will look like you are installing a water line or a sewage pipe. The 24″ X 4″ inch black pipes look like sections of sewer line. You can rent a trencher to make the process quicker and to reduce prying eyes. I have found that even sensitive metal detectors cannot detect the pipes when they are more than 12 inches deep. To be on the safe side, you can make your trench 18 to 24 inches deep. Even if they are buried less deep, they have the metal detector signature of a buried water pipe and won’t look like an attractive target to unearth.

I will address one more point since I hear this all the time. How do you cash in the nickels for the metal value? You don’t in the short run. This is not a buy and turn over proposition. You don’t have to worry about the legalities of melting coins. People don’t have to melt down pre-1965 silver coins to get the metal value. There will always be a market for the actual metal value in the coin. You don’t have to melt down gold coinage to get the metal value. Some day, when the effects of massive inflation are more evident, you will have your hedge against inflation and you will be able to sell your coins for their metallic value as you need to. In the case of nickels, they won’t have to be assayed. They are marked and it is obvious what they are. Their metallic content is common knowledge. There is no down side with nickels. If nothing else, you have gotten your money out of computer digits and you are holding it in tangible form for the coming banking crisis. It just so happens that you got full value for yours in incorruptible metal form with a picture of one of the less offensive presidents stamped on the side.

December 29, 2012

David Hathaway [send him mail] is a former supervisory DEA Agent who homeschools his nine children. He enjoys writing about the injustices of the state.

Categories: Barter, DIY Preparedness Projects, Economic Collapse, Investing/Tangibles, Preparedness | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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