The Art of ‘Smoothing It’ in Struggleville

by Todd Walker

Whether physical, mental, or spiritual, your comfort zone is an oasis of low anxiety, little risk, and predictable outcomes. It’s that place which offers protection, real or perceived, from the scary unknowns of life.

Welcome to Struggleville: Now Entering Your Un-Comfort Zone

You’re entitled to comfort, right?

Well, yes, to some degree.

We all have comfort zones and comfort items we’d hate to do without. These places and things are needed for maintenance, rest, and recuperation.

However, they often turn into self-made snares. For some of us, stepping one toe outside our comfort zone would be like passing a kidney stone.

Here’s the thing…

More comfort does not necessarily equate to survivability. We need stretching, bending, tearing, ripping to grow. It’s the struggle, plain and simple, that brings new life. Babies aren’t born without pain.

But, like my bug out bag or bushcraft kit, my philosophy and mindset evolve the more time I spend Doing the Stuff. The process can only happen by entering Struggleville. And yes, Struggleville is an actually “town” in GA.

The Art of 'Smoothing It' in Struggleville

Struggleville is real!

Metaphorically, Struggleville is the place you live. The place where life is forged – good or bad – peaceful or hectic. The place where kids cry, bosses fire, mistakes are made, and life lessons are caught.

Welcome to Struggleville!

It’s located in the valley, not the mountain top. You’ll never climb your mountain, learn that new skill, or build self-confidence living in your comfort zone.

Here’s the danger of never venturing outside your warm, fuzzy boundaries…

  • You stop growing
  • You stop learning
  • You stop doing

It’s easy to talk yourself into staying put in your comfort zone. You look around at those who have reached optimal success in your field and your tempted to set your bar to their height. They make it look easy. Nothing wrong with aiming high, but your heroes didn’t magically reach the top. They learned to smooth it in Struggleville.

As “Nessmuk” (aka – George Washington Sears) so eloquently wrote in Woodcraft and Camping,

We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. [Emphasis mine]

Nessmuk was referring to our ability to enjoy the great outdoors. But his statement applies to all areas of preparedness. Learning to smooth it takes practice. Skills aren’t developed by just reading about how to. The smoothing it process requires “dirt time.”

In a survival situation, dirt time pays off. Whether it’s wilderness survival or homesteading, you must trade theory for action. The only way to get dirt time is by Doing the Stuff!

Here’s my latest project.

The idea came from a video by Chris Kane on Pathfinder TV on how to build a semi-permanent trapping shelter. Cool project! I decided I needed one for base camp. It’s a weekend project I work on when I get a chance.

The Art of 'Smoothing It' in Struggleville

Frame almost complete. It will sleep two comfortably with room for gear.


The overhang on the front was made from 32″ poles lashed to the ridge beam.


Here are the main tools used to construct the shelter: (L to R) limb saw in black sheath, almost free ax I re-helved, and a Wetterlings belt ax. Other tools used but not pictured are my Swiss Army Knife (for lashings), Bacho Laplander folding saw, and a WWII trench shovel.

Also, I used 36# tarred bank line for lashing material. I’ll probably re-lash the main frame with a more robust natural fiber rope.


Wild grape-vine is woven between the lean-to poles for stability and to help hold debris on top. I’ll use a tarp on top of a layer of pine bows for the roofing. Then I plan to cover the tarp with debris.

As Nessmuk wrote, we don’t go to the woods to rough it, we go to smooth it. And we learn the art of smoothing it by going to Struggleville.

I’ll update you with my first night in the shelter. Ought to be a blast!

Keep Doing the Stuff,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook pageReady to trade theory for action? Join us in the Doing the Stuff Network on these social media sites: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Use the hashtag #DoingTheStuff when sharing your stuff on Twitter.

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Thanks for sharing the stuff!

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Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliant, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

20 Things I never throw away

While I don’t personally store all the wheat, sugar, and noodles that Kris describes, I am a hoarder of containers. Maybe these ideas will stretch your idea muscle a bit.  It certainly did mine.

Doing the stuff,



Source: The Survival Mom

Guest post by Kris

Everything has a purpose—sometimes two or three of them!  For most seasoned Survival Moms, some of these “reuse” ideas are already habit.  But for those of us fairly new to frugal motherhood or the Survival Mom lifestyle, here are 20 things I never throw away:

For Storage:

2-liter bottles, gallon vinegar jugs, etc.—Use to store water (room temperature or frozen). Be sure to date and rotate every six months.

Huge coffee containers—I refill with whatever needs to be moved into rotation: brown sugar, instant oats, flour, powdered milk.  These fit into my everyday pantry a lot easier than 5-gallon buckets.  I can also fit about a dozen Ramen Noodle packages into one to make them less accessible for my tiny, four-legged nemeses.

cardboard box 20 Things I never throw away

image by tew

Plastic peanut butter jars—The large ones can nicely fit a couple of bags of split peas, chick peas, or other bean varieties I don’t usually buy in bulk. Or, if I’m moving longer-term food into rotation, these are perfect (and I can see what’s in them).  Also great for storing treats like dehydrated corn (which the kids eat like candy!), venison jerky, chunks of rock candy, or opened pretzels.  I hate when that half-eaten bag goes stale!

Plastic food tubs—Perfect for leftovers—especially ones I’m sending home with guests.  I also use the tiny sour cream tubs to store homemade lotions and my fledgling attempts at homemade yogurt. They’re also nice for dividing up paint and paste for craft project because tossing them is cleanup.

Empty spice jars—Refill with your own dried spices at the end of the growing season.

Fancy wine, vinegar, or other glass bottles—I make my own fruit-flavored vodkas with the cheapest, bottom-shelf stuff.  Then I pour it into pretty red wine vinegar bottles, attach a recipe for a fancy drink, and give as hostess gifts. Fun meets frugal.

Mason Jar boxes—Okay, I’m probably not a genius, but I sure felt like one when I discovered this.  I almost feel like I should whisper it to you.  If you slice the plastic down the very middle and just slide the new jars out the slit, you can restock the box with filled jars, label the side of the box with masking tape, and stack as high as you dare. The boxes are pretty stable, especially with the added support of the stretched-tight plastic. And it’s a lot cheaper than buying those plastic storage stackers.

Cardboard boxes-Yes, you can store linens and off-season clothes.  BUT you can also store valuables at the bottom, label the box “winter sweaters” or whatever, and stack that box at the very back and bottom of the closet until you can afford that 36-gun safe.  I’ll bet no burglar is going to rummage through your sweater box.

Baby food jars—We don’t have babies anymore, but the jars are still in faithful service.  My husband screwed the lids into a scrap of 2×4, which he then mounted to the wall of the garage.  The top is a storage shelf.  He can unscrew the jars from the lids to access the screws, nuts, bolts, nails, and other “boy things” stored in the jars, which he can see without rummaging through drawers.  He could actually be a genius. (Tip: Use two screws instead of one; our prototype featured jars that spun in a circle every time we tried to unscrew them.)

Food Items:

Bacon Fat—It just makes everything taste better! Strain it through a rubber-band-secured cheesecloth into a canning jar, and some Southern cooks swear you can keep it forever.  Mine never lasts longer than the next pot of beans, jar of green beans, or fried egg breakfast.

Read the rest here

Categories: Frugal Preps, Preparedness, Self-reliant | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Reducing Chronic Illness As We Age

I highly recommend the primal/paleo lifestyle for health, longevity, and just plain fun. Lose the dieting paradigm and embrace a lifestyle.



by Harriet, Editor-at-Large,

Source: Seasoned Citizen Prepper

One of the most important preps I believe we can make is to stay healthy, or for those of us suffering the myriad of conditions that occur as we age, to improve our health.
I am one of those unfortunate people who have had poor health all my life. As a child I suffered a lot of pain that was variously diagnosed. Mobility became lessened and physiotherapy twice a week was instituted. Later I suffered extreme fatigue, occasions of massive inflammation, much pain and disability. The labels don’t really matter as they changed from decade to decade. Sometimes I got a “respectable” auto-immune diagnosis. Other times they wanted to characterize it as a neurosis or psychiatric problem. But all that time I staggered through life, suffering and getting no help from the medical profession beyond occasional two week placebo effect from some of the pills. There were also occasions when the doctors insisted the drugs they gave me worked when they actually made me feel worse. For decades suicide seemed a good choice as I was given no way out of the pain and suffering.
As a result of this I became very interested in healing and unexpected recoveries from severe illness. I knew there were always some people who had recovered when they weren’t expected to from stories in the bible, to the miracles at Lourdes, to miracles claimed by the modern evangelical churches. So I set out how to find out how to make a miracle healing more likely and along the way have learned how to be healthier than I have ever been in my life.
I became a researcher in a university department of primary care and later got a PhD in medicine studying people who should have died but didn’t. It was difficult to get patients for my study as the doctors did not accept that miracles occurred. However when I suggested I was interested in people who had less than a 10% chance of surviving they came up with people for me to talk to. As a result of that quite major study I discovered the psycho-social-spiritual components of health that all the survivors had.
However when I was publishing the paper a decade later (it took me a long time to be able to write it up in a way that my medical colleagues would accept) I went back to my survivors to see how they were doing. Many of them had died in that time and I had to accept that there was something in the physical arena that I had missed. The psychological, the social and the spiritual components were not enough.
I realized that all of the people in the study had eaten a basic vegetable and grass fed meat diet with little in common with the Standard American diet (SAD) pushed by the current dietary advisers. Because that was the way we all ate it didn’t seem remarkable to me at that time. However more and more industrialized food was being sold and eaten. Was that the reason they died? I had no idea but from the perspective of my own health it was a good place to start.
Categories: Natural Health, Preparedness, Primal/Paleo Lifestyle, Real Food, Self-reliant, Survival | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Foxfire: Spotlighting My Glaring Shortcomings In Self-reliance

Remember the “how long does it take to reach the center of a Tootsie pop” commercial? A new spin on that old one is, “How long does it take to become self-reliant?” I’d say a life time after our visit to Foxfire last week.

For any unfamiliar with Foxfire, their website explains,

“‘foxfire’ is the name that an English class picked, in 1966, for a student-produced magazine they chose to create, containing stories and interviews gathered from elders in their rural Southern Appalachian community.

Most importantly, ‘Foxfire’ is the living connection between the high school students in the magazine program and their heritage, built through interaction with their elders. Students, by their own choices, have worked for over 45 years to document and preserve the stories, crafts, trades, and the personalities of their families, neighbors, and friends. By doing so, they have preserved this unique American culture for generations to come.”

I considered myself okay at self-reliance. I mean, it’s pretty easy with all our modern conveniences of today. My push-button lifestyle has seduced me into thinking I’m more prepared than I am. If my homemade soap sucks, I’ll just crank the combustion engine in my car and drive down to the super market and pick up some commercially manufactured soap. What if my solar oven experiment fails? No worries. I’ll just throw the chili on the stove top and turn a knob. Dinner is served.

My point? Don’t be lulled into the belief that you have more skills than you really possess. Don’t get discouraged either. Keep learning, practicing, and adding sustainable skills. One step at a time. One relationship and network at a time.

Becoming an un-consumer

Experiment now while it’s easy. Be a scientist. Ask lots of questions. Try new things. Follow your passion. Self-reliance and preparedness is a lifestyle worth pursuing. My goal is to be a un-consumer. Yep, that’s a new word.

My roots are in the Southern Appalachian culture on my dad’s side and Texan from my mom’s side. I came from good stock. An awakening is happening in my mind, spirit, soul, and body. The more I learn, the more I need to learn. Enough already. Here’s some food for thought and pictures from our visit.

The Tour

The self-guided tour of 19 stops on a 1/4 mile trail features structures, tools, and artifacts of Foxfire Museum. It’s a time machine taking you back to early American life in Appalachia.

The Savannah House – built in the 1820s

1) The Savannah House was built by Irish immigrants and is the oldest authentic structure at Foxfire. This cabin was home to a four generations of descendants. Three of these each had 10 children in a home measuring 21 x 21 feet. Older children slept in the loft. They must have been stacked like cord wood at bedtime.

The centerpiece of the home

Most of the cooking was done on the hearth.

Hog scalder

This hog scalder would have been used to boil water in preparation for scalding the pig before butchering. The boiling water made light work of the scrapping process to remove hair from the hog. A huge convenience for early pioneers. When I grew up, we used a metal 55 gallon drum cut in half over a fire pit. The scalder above had an opening in the front to insert fire wood under the large metal pot of water. The chimney in the rear draws the smoke out of the area.

It could also multitask as a soap-maker, heating laundry water, or a cook pot for large gatherings…which was likely with family size back then.

2) The second stop is only open with guided tours. The Museum Cabin (post 1850s era) has a true upstairs and rooms divided by interior walls. Looking through the windows we could see woodworking tools like planes, saws, and shaving horses. I’m disappointed that we couldn’t get in to see the moonshine still in the other room of the house.

3) The Wagon Shed. This is used to house two wagons. Originally built as a cabin for staff, it measures 16 x 18 feet. The Zuraw Wagon, pictured below is the only documented wagon to have traveled to Oklahoma in the Trail of Tears. It was built completely by hand in the late 1700s. Green B. Daves used this wagon to relocate to Georgia in the 1830s. It’s still operable today. They don’t make them like they use to. Mrs. Retta Pickelsimer Zuraw, a descendant of Daves, donated the wagon to Foxfire in 1975.

The Zuraw Wagon

4) The Blacksmith Shop. This is a place communities depended on for tools to do their work. I’ve been toying with smithing for a while now. This skill would be very barter-able in a post SHTF scenario. Tools, horse shoes, nails, hardware, home furnishings, bladed tools, and even guns are just a few of the necessary items produced in a smithy.

Stone forge and other blacksmith tools

5) The Ingram Mule Barn. This was used to house animals and hay. Below is a picture of one of the feed troughs.

Hand hewed feed trough in the mule barn

6) The Chapel. This chapel was constructed on site using salvaged lumber from a barn. The church was the center of Appalachian community. It was usually the first building constructed. It had multiple uses as well – church, schoolhouse, and community meeting hall. There was a replica of an old wooden coffin in the corner. My wife snapped a photo of me laying in it (Pic not included).

Inside the chapel

7) Root Cellar. This one is of traditional design but mostly above ground. Most were built completely below ground to take advantage of the cooler and consistent temperatures of the earth.

Root cellar

8) The Bell Gristmill. This mill was constructed by C. B. Bell in the late 1920s and relocated to Foxfire in 1972. The “overshot” water wheel was used in mountain terrain to take advantage of gravity and water flow to achieve twice the efficiency of “undershot” wheels that depended on the speed of water currents.

Millers were highly respected at their craft. “Keep your nose to the grindstone.” This expression came from milling grains. To tell if the grain was getting too hot during the milling process, a miller would keep his nose close to the grindstone to check for excessive heat that could ruin a batch of ground grains.

The water wheel on the gristmill

9) Broom making in the Gott Cabin. This 12 x 12 foot cabin was built in 1985 by cabin builder Peter Gott with help of Foxfire high school students using traditional tools and methods of the Appalachian region. Half-dovetail notches were used to join logs to help prevent water seepage in seams and prolong the life of the structure. The cabin chinking (material in the gaps of the logs) was made of red Georgia clay and modern cement. Horse hair or straw would have been used in period construction.

Broom maker

Guess the tool

That’s right. The above pictured tool is a broom maker’s hammer. I’d never seen one before. It’s used like a hammer to cut material in broom making.

10) The Bungalow. The last stop on our tour housed many items that were used in the early days of Appalachia. Below is a round, screened cabinet used to hang cured meats. I thought it was a great idea. It kept bugs and other critters out of the food storage.

Smoked meat case

As I said earlier, there were 19 sites to visit. I only included 10. The rest you’ll have to see for yourself. It’s well worth the visit and $6 fee to step back in time and take in a bit of history. For more info on The Foxfire Museum and Heritage Center, you can contact the helpful folks at Foxfire:

Phone: (706) 746-5828

Location: Mountain City, GA

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Homesteading, Lost Skills, Self-reliant, SHTF | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Weed Chowder: Lamb’s Quarter Soup

Source: Willow Haven Outdoor

Weed Chowder: Lamb’s Quarter Soup

May 18, 2011 By Creek Stewart
I never use pesticides or fertilizer in my yard.  Why?  Because all spring, summer and fall I eat a variety of wild growing plants from it.  Spring is an especially good time to ‘graze’.  The younger shoots and leaves of most wild edibles are the best tasting.  Lamb’s Quarter is one of my favorite wild edibles and probably the most common in my area.  There are literally 100′s of Lamb’s Quarter plants growing in and around my yard.  I don’t have to walk far to gather a descent amount of leaves for a classic rustic survival dish: Lamb’s Quarter Soup.

Lamb's Quarter Growing on Rock Wall

Lamb’s Quarter Growing on Rock Wall

I typically just eat the leaves.  They can be eaten saw or steamed like spinach.  For this awesome soup I gather a colander full of Lamb’s Quarter leaves.

A Batch of Lamb's Quarter Leaves

A Batch of Lamb’s Quarter Leaves

And 1 onion…

Onion from the Mini 4x4 Survival Garden

Onion from the Mini 4×4 Survival Garden

I rinse the leaves, chop the onion and steam them both in a pot with 2 teaspoons of butter.

Lamb's Quarter Leaves, Chopped Onion & Butter...Steaming

Lamb’s Quarter Leaves, Chopped Onion & Butter…Steaming

Once the leaves have wilted down and the onion softens I add 2-3 teaspoons full of flour as a thickener.  Then I add 2 cups of water and 3 chicken bullion cubes and bring everything to a boil.

After adding flour, water and bullion cubes.

After adding flour, water and bullion cubes.

I boil it for about 30 seconds and add in 2 cups of milk and then turn it down to a simmer for about 2-3 minutes.

Almost done....Lamb's Quarter Soup

Almost done….Lamb’s Quarter Soup

Finally, I salt and pepper to taste and voila – a Weed Soup fit for a king.

Bowl of Lamb's Quarter Soup

Bowl of Lamb’s Quarter Soup

Serve this as the 1st course at your next get-together and everyone will be amazed that you just picked the main ingredient on the fence row or in your driveway.  This is just one way to make use of one of the most common wild ‘weeds’ in the world.  It normally takes me about 10-12 minutes to make a complete pot of soup and the reheated left-overs are even better.

What weeds do you eat?

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,


Categories: Bushcrafting, Preparedness, Primal Skills, Self-reliant, Survival | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

DIY Preparedness: How To Make Lye Soap

WARNING: Lye is highly caustic and will degrade organic tissue. Do not allow lye to touch your skin, breathe in the fumes or be taken internally in any way. It will cause chemical burns, permanent scarring or blindness. Do not ever combine lye with aluminum, magnesium, zinc, tin, chromium, brass or bronze. When using or making lye, always wear protective equipment including safety glasses and chemical resistant gloves, and have adequate ventilation.
Basic homemade lye soap is useful for so much more than cleaning up the language of wayward children. Grandma used to rub it on dirty stains before washing. It is very soothing to sensitive skin, since the glycerin contained in homemade soap helps to clear acne, eczema and psoriasis. It eliminates the “human scent” on hunters. When rubbed on a poison oak, ivy or sumac reaction it will cool the itching when allowed to dry. Grandma used to tie a bar in an old sock and hang it on the porch as a bug repellent, and spread the scrapings around the base of the house to repel ants, termites, snakes, spiders and roaches. It was often used as a lubricant on machinery, drawers, and hinges.

Soap was discovered in Ancient Babylon as early as 2800 BC. It is thought to have been made for the first time when grease from the cooking pot boiled over and combined with the ashes from the camp fire. Our forefathers picked up the resulting soap and found that it was a good tool to keep themselves clean. Modern soap was made in regular practice as early as 300 AD in Germany .

The Saponification process
In its simplest form, soap is made from oil or fat, water and lye. Now, we buy concentrated lye and dissolve it in water before combining it with oil, but before modern lye could be bought at the store, people would take the hardwood ashes from their cookstove, store it in an old carved out tree or wooden barrel, and then pour rainwater through it to make the lye. They would test the strength of the lye by floating an egg in it. Then they would pour the lye into the warmed fat and stir it. When the fat and lye are combined, a chemical reaction takes place. There is no lye or fat left—they are combined to make something called soap.

Store bought lye is known as Sodium Hydroxide since it has more salt than does homemade lye, which is called Potassium Hydroxide. Sodium Hydroxide makes a much harder soap than Potassium Hydroxide. To make a harder soap out of homemade lye, add ½ tsp. of table salt for each pound of fat.

Tallow (beef fat), lard (pork fat) or vegetable oils can be used as the base for soap. These fats are called triglycerides. When the triglyceride is treated with lye, it rapidly forms the ester bond and releases glycerol (glycerin), the natural byproduct of saponification. Most homemade soap contains glycerin, which is why it’s so good for the skin; many commercial operations remove it for other applications.

Making the Lye
Lye making requires hardwood ash. Hardwoods include any fruit or nut trees and any of the following:  Alder, Apple, Ash, Aspen , Beech, Birch, Cherry, Cottonwood, Dogwood, Elm, Gum, Hickory , Locust, Maple, Oak, Olive, Pear, Poplar, Rosewood, Walnut, or Willow . Softwoods are to be avoided for this function: Cedar, Spruce, Pine, Fir, Hemlock, or Cypress .

In a wooden barrel or hollow tree, drill some holes in the very bottom, then set it up on a stand to allow room below for a pot to catch the lye water. Some people make a barrel with a removable plug which they remove after letting the water sit in the ash.  Under the stand, set a wooden or glass pot to catch the drip.

In the barrel, put first a layer of gravel, then a layer of straw or dried grass. Fill up the barrel with hardwood ash. When you are ready to make the lye, pour rainwater or other soft water through the ash. The minerals in hard water will interfere with the chemical reaction between the lye and the fat. The water may take up to a few days to drain through. The spent ashes can be composted or added to the garden.

In a specified purpose soap-making pot such as cast iron, boil the lye until a fresh, in-shell egg will float on top, with about half of the egg still above the surface of the lye. If it’s too high, add more water, if it won’t float, it needs to cook down a lot more or else be poured through a new batch of ashes. The egg will need to be destroyed after use. Another test of the lye strength is to dip a bird feather in it, and if it dissolves, the lye is strong enough. Don’t test it with your finger; if it’s strong enough, it will eat off the skin.

Rendering The Fat
After the animal (beef or pork) is butchered, take the fat and skin that you set aside and fill a heavy bottomed pot. Pork is the preferred fat for soapmaking. It’s best to render it outside so as to not stink up the house. We have used a homemade propane burner on legs, with a funnel to channel the air to make the flame hotter. Something similar could be made to use with wood heat. Simmer the fat in the pot, then ladle the liquid fat out of the cooking pot. We killed a 400 lb. hog and got about 10 gallons of rendered fat.

Making Soap—The Cold Process
If using commercially produced lye, it’s possible to use a cold process, where you warm the fat and dissolve the lye in water, then add the lye water to the fat and put in a blender and mix it, then pour into a mold. The emulsification starts when it “traces” with a spoon dragged over the rippled mixture.  It has to set for 6 weeks in the mold to be properly mixed.

1 lb. Commercial Lye soap recipe
¼ c. commercially produced lye
¾ c. soft water
2 c. (1 lb.) fat

6 lb. Commercial Lye soap recipe
13 oz commercially produced lye
1 ½ pt. soft water
12 c. (6 lb.) fat

Instructions: Suit up in safety goggles, gloves and long sleeves. Start with room temperature or cooler water. [Correction by JWR.] Add the lye to the water. This will warm the water substantially. Stir well, making sure you don’t breathe in the fumes. Set the mixture aside to cool, preferably outside or in a well ventilated area.

Melt all the oils together in a lye-tolerant pan. Allow them to cool to approximately 110°F or within 5° of the lye water.

Add the lye water to the melted oils, never the oil to the lye water. Stir vigorously until “trace” occurs. This can be done in a blender if you so desire. If you are stirring by hand, it may take an hour or more for it to trace.

Pour the traced soap mixture into your molds. Cover. Cut after 3-7 days. Allow to sit for a full 6 weeks to cure and finish the saponification process.

Making Soap—The Cooked Process
It isn’t recommended to use homemade lye with the cold process. The cooked-down lye water is added to the fat and then mixed as it cooks. The reactive time is shorter, since the mixing is done in the pot instead of setting in the mold. It still needs to set for four weeks or so to harden.

1 lb. Homemade Lye soap recipe
¾ c. lye water
½ tsp. salt
2 c. fat

6 lb. Homemade Lye soap recipe
4 ½ c. lye water
1 Tbsp. salt
12 c. (6 lb.) fat

The amount of lye will vary, depending on its strength. This is a starting measurement. The old timers would mix it up and see how well it set. If it was still watery, they’d add more lye and cook it some more. If it set up too hard, they’d add more water, because they didn’t want the soap to crack.

Mix the lye water, salt and fat in the pot. They need to be about the same temperature. The mixture is then heated and stirred until the emulsification (trace) happens. The heating and stirring enables adjustment of the amount of fat or lye, but nothing should be added until it is well heated. Pour into the mold. Cover. Cut after 3-7 days. Allow to harden 4-6 weeks.

Essential oils can be added to the fats before the lye is added. You can choose your own combination. The amount of essential oils needs to be part of the total amount of fat, so the soap isn’t made soft from too much oil. Botanicals, herbs, oatmeal, citrus peels, or any other desired additives can be added after the soap traces, and then it can be poured into the mold.

No metal should be used as a soap mold. It’s best to use a flexible material such as plastic, for ease of removal. I mostly search thrift stores for old plastic storage boxes. The old-timers made wooden molds with removable bottoms. Or you can line a glass mold with plastic wrap before pouring in the soap.

Once you’ve used homemade lye soap, you’ll never go back to the store bought stuff. It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s so much better than anything found on a store shelf.

Categories: DIY Preparedness, DIY Preparedness Projects, Frugal Preps, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Self-reliant, SHTF, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lost Skills: How To Properly Hold And Use A Hand Saw

Here’s to sawdust in your eye! I love the smell of sawdust in the morning. I’ve got a lot of power tools. I use them for many projects…because I’ve got electricity – now. What if the power went out (grid down) or you are in a remote location? Just a thought.

I regularly seek and purchase quality hand tools, new and old. Last week I found an adze for a great price. You do know what an adze is right? I digress. I encourage like-minded, self-reliant people to acquire the skills needed for using hand tools. If the grid never goes down, you’ll still have the coolest functional tools among your friends. Plus, it’s so satisfying to step back and look at your completed project made by your hands.

A return to traditional hand tools is in order. Today’s topic: The hand saw.

Back to basics skills: How to properly hold and use a hand saw

The Practical Prepper

Recently, I came across a hundred-year-old book on carpentry. Flipping through it, I was reminded of my father teaching my brother and I how to build and repair things around the house. The section on using a hand saw paralleled the skills my father taught us, but I don’t know many people that learn the proper use of hand tools anymore (everything’s powered saws now).

Of course, from a prepping point of view, having basic hand tools and knowing how to use them is a very good idea, and practical too. As an example, having a hand saw and being able to use it might allow you to make emergency repairs to your house or shelter in the aftermath of a hurricane or other natural disaster. If the power is out, a hand saw may be your only option.

At any rate, here are some basics on how to hold and use the common hand saw:

Gripping the Saw

Hold the saw firmly during the initial cut or two; afterwards, hold the handle loosely. Holding the handle tightly will tire you quickly, and more so as you continue to cut on longer projects. Use one hand to hold and control the saw; the other hand is used to steady the material being cut.

How to Start a Saw on a Line

First, don’t saw on the line; instead saw next to the line. Measure and draw the line so that the saw kerf (the saw’s cut) is on the discarded side of the material. The saw should cut alongside the line, and the line should not be obliterated when you cut. Note: for fine woodworking, you may want to leave a little extra material for trimming and/or finishing.

The Starting Cut

Carefully use the thumb of the non-saw hand to guide the as shown. Be sure that the end of your thumb is raised a sufficient distance to clear the teeth:

Lightly draw the saw upward (not downward) for the first stroke or two. As you draw the saw up, you can judge whether the saw blade is in the proper position to cut along the mark. Assuming the saw is in the proper location, begin to saw downward.

When cutting across the grain of the wood, hold the saw at an angle of about 45 degrees:

For ripping (cutting along the length of the grain), you may get better results holding the saw at less than 45 degrees (but not too low an angle:

The Saw Stroke

Make a long stroke, using the full blade of the saw. Don’t acquire a “jerky” style of sawing. If the handle is held loosely, and the saw is at the proper angle, the weight of the saw, together with the placement of the handle on the saw blade, will be found sufficient to make the requisite cut at each stroke. Also, never force the saw blade; forcing the saw through the wood will give you a crooked cut.

If you notice, the handle of every saw is mounted nearest the top/back edge. That position allows the saw to take advantage of the principle of a wedge. As the cutting stroke moves downward, the line of thrust is above the tooth line, which is at an angle to the line of thrust, causing the saw teeth to dig into the wood:



Believing that preparedness and self-reliance are key to individual freedom, Atticus Freeman is the founder of the Self-Reliant Info blog, in addition to authoring The Practical Prepper weekly blog here on Farm Dreams. Thanks for reading!

Categories: DIY Preparedness, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Self-reliant | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Flowers in the Garden

I just started adding flowers to my garden. There are great benefits to this practice. Read more below.

Flowers in the Garden

Before I started gardening I was able to close my eyes and picture a beautifully landscaped garden which was overflowing in vegetables.  For some reason the gardens I pictured were always quaint, inviting, and very decorative.  When I thought about growing home vegetables I didn’t picture straight rows or mono-crops.  Instead there were flowers and trees interplanted with veggies, pathways, and garden statues placed around.  Little did I know that my instincts were right!  A “vegetable” garden that incorporates flowers and herbs is more productive as these serve more of a function than just beauty.  And those statues or garden decorations are more than just interesting to look at, they are also beneficial to your vegetables.  Unfortunately, my eagerness to start growing food when I put in my first garden prompted me to plant in straight rows and stick just to planting vegetables.  I didn’t give another thought to that dream garden in the first two years.  Over time though, I began to get the vegetable growing thing down and was able to spend more time beautifying my garden.  Well, it was something that I should not have put off because it has served my vegetables well and now I recommend considering planting flowers and herbs right beside your vegetables from the get-go.

Flowers and herbs do so much more than add tranquility and beauty to your garden.  They can serve as an army against the pests that bother your vegetable plants.  We all know about herbal medicine and botanical extracts for things like repelling insects, etc.  Well it’s no different for your vegetables!  Plant patches of flowers in between your vegetables to either deter or attract the bugs that you want.  The essences that flowers and herbs emit can work like the most intoxicating perfume or poisonous spray to protect your plants when you’re not there.  Some annuals can easily be planted directly in with your vegetable transplants while perennials might be best planted as a border to your vegetable garden.  Here’s a list of some flowers and herbs and the best way to use them:


Nasturtium – This is an annual that is easily started from seed either indoors and transplanted out or directly seeded in the garden.  Start them before putting your vegetable transplants in so that they have a head start.  Once they are established, they can work as a trap crop, which means that they will attract the pesky bugs to themselves and keep them away from your precious veggies.  They will attract aphids and black and white flies, so plant them nearby vegetables that are commonly bothered by these pests.  They will also repel borers and squash bugs so plant them close to things like summer squash and zucchini.  As an added benefit, nasturtiums are edible!

Petunia – This is another annual and you will find it at every garden center so it’s very easy to come by. They offer big beautiful bursts of color all season long which will attract wonderful things like butterflies and bees to pollinate your garden.  Their real benefit in the garden though is to deter beetles which can devastate things like cucumbers and beans.

Marigolds – Filling your garden with marigolds is easy since you will find flats of them at every garden center and they will spread into big puffs of color that also emit a strong insect repellant.  Marigolds are best planted amongst vegetables bothered by beetles such as cucumbers, potatoes, and beans.  They also serve to ward off the invisible root knot nematode, which is a tiny soil bug that you probably won’t see, but will see it’s effects when a plant dies and it’s roots are then found to have knots all in them.

Borage – This is considered an annual herb and you can use it medicinally as a calming tea or eat it fresh to flavor dishes with a taste similar to cucumber, but it also grows large with interesting leaves and small pretty flowers.  The bees will love it, but the tomato hornworms won’t.  Plant it in between your tomatoes to repel these troublesome pests, but be sure to give it room as it will sprawl and could grow quite large or simply trellis it up with your tomatoes.

Castor bean – This is easily started from seeds sown directly in the garden, but be warned that the seeds are poisonous.  The plant will grow very tall and looks similar to okra with hibiscus type flowers.  It’s roots emit a strong scent underground that repels moles so it’s great to plant by root vegetables such as sweet potatoes or regular potatoes.  It will also repel mosquitos from the area so planting some around the corners of your garden will protect you from mosquitoes while your work.


White hellebore – This flower can be very beautiful, but is also known to be poisonous and will spread a bit so planting it on the border of a garden will allow it room to grow and come back year after year.  They are evergreen, bloom in winter, and prefer some shade so plant it under a fruit or ornamental tree.  Their benefit is that they will repel the cabbage moth which will lay eggs on your cabbage, collards, kale, and other brassicas which hatch into worms that will eat your vegetables before you can.  They will also repel slugs and could be a good border plant around things like strawberry beds.

Tansy – This perennial can be started indoors and transplanted out or direct seeded in the garden.  Once it is established, it will spread and can be divided each year to plant in other locations.  It will grow about 2-3 feet tall and has beautiful yellow puffs of flowers in the summer.  This plant is used medicinally, but can be toxic.  Tansy is a strong insect repellant and will emit a scent that will keep away japanese beetles, cucumber beetles, squash bugs, ants, and colorado potato beetle.  Fill your garden border with tansy and these insects won’t want to stop by.

Mint – This plant will spread like crazy, but if planted in the border of your garden it can work wonders at repelling pests such as flea beetles and cabbage moths.  You can also collect the leaves for medicinal tea or to scatter around closest and windows to deter indoor pests.  Be warned that once you plant mint, you probably won’t be able to eradicate it, so be sure to plant it in a spot where it can keep growing and spreading.

Wormwood – This is an evergreen shrub that will grow about 4 feet wide so give it room in the corners of your garden.  It’s scent will repel flea beetles, cabbageworms, mice, and slugs, but it’s roots can emit an enzyme that stops nearby plants from growing, so it likes a space all to it’s own.  Definitely don’t plant it amongst your veggies, but rather in the border.

Rosemary – Here is another evergreen shrub that requires some space, but is a wonderful border plant.  Not only can you use the herb in cooking, but it will also deter cabbage moths, bean beetles, and carrot flies.  I think you can never have too much rosemary around, so use it as a hedge and let it grow large or plant it in the center of a square bed of vegetables.


Birds can be your garden workers for you if you attract them.  Plant tall sturdy flowers like sunflowers right along side your vegetables which will give the birds a safe place to perch while they hunt for insects.  They will eat pests like grasshoppers before they have a chance to reproduce and take over your garden. Also, setting out bird feeders and baths will draw in wild birds to hunt bugs and planting thorny rose bushes not only add beauty to your garden but will provide safe places for birds to nest.  The added benefit is they will rid your plants of worms and caterpillars as they feed their young.   Beautiful honeysuckle vines grown on interesting trellises will fill the air with a sweet scent while you work in the garden and will attract birds as your helpers.  Elderberry bushes in the corners of your garden will give you edible fruit, but will also attract beneficial birds.  Purple Martins will spend all day and night scooping insects out of the air so be sure to include houses to attract them.  For more information about how to attract Martin breeding pairs read this page.  Of course, you can grow your own birdhouse gourds and the following year make your own birdhouses!  This page gives instructions on making gourd houses for Martins.


Toads can be your allies given the number of bugs they eat, but you will need to make your garden appealing to them more than just providing the food.  Those garden statues and cute little decorations can serve as housing for toads which will want to make them stay around.  If you can’t attract toads to your garden, then go hunting for them.  Look around ponds and creeks and catch some toads and relocate them to your garden.  Give them structures spread around the garden to tunnel in for shade and cool soil.  Something as simple as an over turned terra cotta pot with a piece broken out or a hole for them to climb in will give them housing.  They will seek the shade and moist soil that can be trapped under garden structures.  They will also need shallow places for water to collect so laying interesting stepping stones that have embossed designs and pockets for water will make them happy.  If you can get the toads to stick around they will reward you by eating copious amounts of crickets, grubs, caterpillars, squash bugs, and beetles!

Categories: Gardening, Homesteading, Preparedness, Self-reliant | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

50 Free self-reliant and preparedness books for your Kindle reader

NOTE: These books were free as of when this article was published  (May 2012). They may not remain free forever.

Big thanks to Atticus Freeman for putting together a great post on FREE reads! Don’t have a Kindle? No worries. Read his post below (and visit his blog) for the how-to on downloading the books without a kindle reader. I’m adding this to myBlogroll: Indispensable Information Overload List of Links“.

Source: Self-Reliant Info

Author: Atticus Freeman

Date: 24 May 2012

50 Free self-reliant and preparedness books for your Kindle reader

If you’ve read our posts for very long at all, you probably know this: the only thing we like better than preparedness and self-reliant resources are free ones! Fortunately, there are many Kindle books available for no cost over at

Many of the free books are simply old books from the early 1900s that are in the public domain, but there a number of newer ones too. Of course, some of the older books are useful just because they often describe how to do things without complex machinery or modern processes, which is very helpful for the self-reliant do-it-yourselfer.

Below is a list of 50 Kindle books that are related to self-reliance and/or preparedness, which are free to download (at least as of the time of this writing).

By the way… don’t have a Kindle e-reader? No worries. Don’t forget that you can download apps for both Mac and PC, most smartphones or tablets, and also read the books in Amazon’s free online Kindle Cloud Reader

Before we get to the no-cost books, it’s worth pointing out that there are many worthwhile Kindle books that cost just a dollar or two (including a number of them on prepping), so it’s worth looking at them too. Perhaps one of the best bargains I’ve seen is Homesteading by Abigail R. Gehring for just $0.99! That is a great book, at an astonishing price; it’s well worth it for less than a dollar.

Now, on with the show — here are 50 free self-reliant and preparedness Kindle books:

  1. The Modern Kitchen Pantry: How to Design, Create and Use Your Pantry by Kev Williams
  2. 100 Gardening Tips by Georges Louis
  3. Backyard Chickens for Beginners: Getting the Best Chickens, Choosing Coops, Feeding and Care, and Beating City Chicken Laws by R.J. Ruppenthal
  4. Homebrew Your First Beer by Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein
  5. Elements of Plumbing by Samuel Edward Dibble
  6. Weekend Homesteader: August by Anna Hess
  7. A Simple Guide to Raising Chickens by D, V.M
  8. The Porridge Book by Sambodhi Prem
  9. Growing Herbs Indoors: Your Guide To Growing Herbs In Containers For A Vibrant Indoor Herb Garden by Lee Anne Dobbins
  10. The Home Baking Guide to Substituting and Measuring (In the Pantry Baking Standards) by Joyce Middleton
  11. The Skilful Cook: A Practical Manual of Modern Experience by Mary Harrison
  12. Iron Making in the Olden Times as instanced in the Ancient Mines, Forges, and Furnaces of The Forest of Dean by Henry George Nicholls
  13. Science in the Kitchen by Mrs. E. E. Kellogg
  14. The Mushroom, Edible and Otherwise Its Habitat and its Time of Growth by Miron Elisha Hard
  15. Camp Life in the Woods and the Tricks of Trapping and Trap Making by William Hamilton Gibson
  16. The Home Medical Library, Volume I (of VI)
  17. The Home Medical Library, Volume II (of VI)
  18. The Home Medical Library, Volume V (of VI) (Note: Volumes III, IV, and VI were not available.)
  19. In Time of Emergency A Citizen’s Handbook on Nuclear Attack, Natural Disasters (1968) by United States Office of Civil Defense
  20. The Art of Making Whiskey So As to Obtain a Better, Purer, Cheaper and Greater Quantity of Spirit, From a Given Quantity of Grain by Anthony Boucherie
  21. Making a Fireplace by Henry Hodgman Saylor
  22. Vegetable Dyes Being a Book of Recipes and Other Information Useful to the Dyer by Ethel M. Mairet
  23. Gardening Without Irrigation: or without much, anyway by Steve Solomon
  24. Every Step in Canning The Cold-Pack Method by Grace Viall Gray
  25. Small Gardens and How to Make the Most of Them by Violet Purton Biddle
  26. Organic Gardener’s Composting by Steve Solomon
  27. Culinary Herbs: Their Cultivation Harvesting Curing and Uses by Maurice Grenville Kains
  28. Ginseng and Other Medicinal Plants A Book of Valuable Information for Growers as Well as Collectors of Medicinal Roots, Barks, Leaves, Etc. by Arthur Robert Harding
  29. Nature Cure by Henry Lindlahr
  30. Agriculture for Beginners, Revised Edition by Daniel Harvey Hill, Charles William Burkett, and Frank Lincoln Stevens
  31. Electricity for the farm: Light, heat and power by inexpensive methods from the water wheel or farm engine by Frederick Irving Anderson
  32. Yeast by Thomas Henry Huxley
  33. The American Practical Brewer and Tanner by Joseph Coppinger
  34. The Practical Distiller An Introduction To Making Whiskey, Gin, Brandy, Spirits… by Samuel McHarry
  35. Confessions of a Prepper by D.B. Fletcher
  36. The Handbook of Soap Manufacture by W. H. Simmons and H. A. Appleton
  37. Everyday Foods in War Time by Mary Swartz Rose
  38. Woodcraft and Camping by George Washington Sears
  39. How to Camp Out by John Mead Gould
  40. Simple Sabotage Field Manual by United States Office of Strategic Services
  41. Individual Preparedness and Response to Chemical, Radiological, Nuclear, and Biological Terrorist Attacks: The Reference Guide by Lynn E. Davis and Tom LaTourrette
  42. Backpack Gourmet: Good Hot Grub You Can Make at Home, Dehydrate, and Pack for Quick, Easy, and Healthy Eating on the Trail by Linda Frederick Yaffe
  43. How To Grow Onions From Seed: Tips on growing big onions, onion sets and different varieties including garlic, shallotts, leeks, spring onions and chives by Oliver Ramsey
  44. Sandwiches Cookbook by Gooseberry Patch
  45. Knots, Splices and Rope Work A Practical Treatise by Alpheus Hyatt Verrill
  46. How and When to Be Your Own Doctor by Isabel Moser and Steve Solomon
  47. Things Mother Used to Make by Lydia Maria Gurney
  48. What I know of farming: a series of brief and plain expositions of practical agriculture as an art based upon science by Horrace Greeley
  49. The Cooking Manual of Practical Directions for Economical Every-Day Cookery by
  50. Juliet Corson
  51. Hunting Dogs Describes in a Practical Manner the Training, Handling, Treatment, Breeds, Etc., Best Adapted for Night Hunting as Well as Gun Dogs for Daylight Sport by Oliver Hartley
Categories: DIY Preparedness, Free Downloads, Preparedness, Self-reliant, Survival Education | Tags: , , | 12 Comments

Are You Low Hanging Fruit?

Home invasions will continue to rise as our economy sinks. Here’s a real-life nightmare and some great advise by Matt in Texas over at Survival Blog on how to avoid being the low hanging fruit.

Source: SurvivalBlog

Date: May 22, 2012

Letter Re: Home Invasion Defensive Planning

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About a year ago I remember reading a personal account in SurvivalBlog about a home invasion/robbery in Florida that went terribly wrong. I remember thinking it was almost surreal in the way it unfolded and thought things like that only happened in third world countries. It was an eye opening experience and something that made me rethink the way I handled myself in a place I considered to be secure by default. A few months ago my eyes were opened again when someone in one of my coworker’s neighborhood went through a similar experience. I am not trying to kid myself into believing I live in some illusion of safety. I live within 60 miles of the Texas/Mexico boarder. And because of this, home invasions have become highly sophisticated in my area. Gangs, for lack of a better word, who were loosely affiliated with cartels would use home invasions as a tool to hijack drug shipments from rivals at safe-houses and as a profitable way to kidnap “undocumented migrant workers” (illegal aliens) from smugglers. The thought was that most of these occurrences were contained to people who were doing something illegal and that civilians were immune. Most of these people would never go to the police because they themselves were breaking the law. In recent months this has changed. Apparently, with the war on drugs in Mexico reaching new levels of violence and the upcoming summer elections, these enterprising individuals have decided to expand their range of victims.

One afternoon, in a quiet neighborhood in Brownsville, Texas, four armed men pulled up to a house while most people were at work. The put on ski masks and rang the doorbell making sure to obstruct the security eyepiece enough to obfuscate their intent. A maid opened the door and the four men burst into the house. They quickly took control over the situation by restraining her and searching the house. After searching the house and collecting any valuables, (including a handgun in the nightstand) the offenders waited for the homeowner to return home. At some point, homeowner called the house to tell the maid that he would be arriving soon with groceries. The maid, while being held at gunpoint, was forced to make the homeowner feel like nothing was wrong. Once the homeowner arrived with his wife and child, they were immediately overpowered and captured upon entering the house. The offenders forced the man at gunpoint to go from room to room opening two floor safes and one gun safe while they plundered jewelry, cash and firearms. After they had gathered all the valuables, the offenders determined that they wanted more. So, at this point, three of the men held the homeowner’s family hostage while one of the men drove the homeowner to three different banks where he made large cash withdraws. The homeowner was constantly reminded that if he tried to alert a teller or signal for help that the men at the house would murder his family. They returned home with the money, tied the family to furniture in the living room, and left with the warning that if they called the law enforcement they would be back. They had explained that they had the house and the family under surveillance for weeks leading up to this event. An entire week went by before the family alerted law enforcement out of fear for their lives and now the story is slowly being made public knowledge as police search for tips and clues into the crime.

Nothing is going to fix what happened, but you can draw some lessons from it.

Lesson 1. Availability of Information

There are several things that I would like to discuss and address as possible lessons that can be taken away from this entire experience. In my occupation, I have to address many different aspects in the implantation of social engineering as a tool to both bypass and overcome security measures. The most valuable single resource that anyone has is information. What strikes me as very alarming is the amount of information that was available to the offenders in this case. They knew when to strike. They knew that there would be a valuable payload inside of the house. They knew what banks he had accounts at, when he got home, what routes he drove and how many people were in the house. They knew the names of his wife and children. They knew when the maid was going to be the only person in the house. They knew the location of the alarm pad. They even knew where the security camera DVR was located so they could collect it when they were done (we will discuss this later). The first lesson should be protecting as much of this information as possible. The amount of resources available to any member of society at their open personal disposal is just frightening. Without knowing anything about you, I could pull your property tax information from the county tax office based on your address and work backwards through a web site like Spokeo or Maltego to determine how much you make, how many people reside in your house, where you work and what you drive. Most of this can be determined just by grabbing the mail out of your mailbox one afternoon before you are even home from work.

What’s the point of this? Don’t make it easy for them. Use opt-out services to protect personal information. Buy a security-mailbox. Better yet: get a P.O. Box! Don’t disclose all your personal information on a raffle entry that Dr. Pepper and Coca Cola emailed you last week for a chance to win a free jet ski! Information security is something that takes very little effort but can make a huge difference. I am not a counter-terrorism or counter-surveillance export, but I point out a few things that make a huge difference in those who would intend to do harm to you past protecting your credit. James Wesley Rawles is always warning about OPSEC but just because you don’t disclose your phone number to the girl at the local Pizza Hut doesn’t mean that you aren’t doing 10 times as much damage by filling out a registration form online with your biographical information.

GPS scrubbing your pictures is another thing that is rarely mentioned. Many people post pictures directly to the internet (example Facebook) from their smartphones without first converting the image or at least running it through a program to remove tagged information. One of the most common law enforcement forensic practices is to lift GPS location data from pictures to give information on suspects. Criminals aren’t stupid. They are doing the same thing. While you think it might be fun to take a picture of your fully loaded gun safe and upload it to your favorite apocalyptic survival blog, please understand that there is personal information encoded in that picture from your smart phone. Might be something you might want to address.

Lesson 2. Availability of Access

I believe Mr. Rawles and others have discussed fortifying your house with large planters, thorny bushes and even cleverly concealed cement embankments. My question is why not take this one step further when it comes to your main point of entry? I am not suggesting driving 4 foot railroad ties into your front yard hidden under lawn gnomes like tank traps, but why not install a front door entry gate? A front entry gate is probably the single best investment you can make from the perspective of additional space from contact. This will give you an extra degree of separation from any random person who rings your doorbell from a trick-or-treater to a guy looking to hit you in the head with a pipe and score your wallet. You can buy one at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s and they cost less to install than a security camera system of connected intercom. This is probably one of the most important home improvements you can consider making if your Homeowners Association allows it. (Yes Mr. Rawles, I can hear you screaming “move!” as I type this)

What I also want to mention here, and I believe has been mentioned before on this site, is being aware of who you let into your house. Over the recent years, I have become increasingly suspicious of the contractors that have come into my house to do repair and construction work. While various web sites exist to do background checks on reputable companies, nothing can give a window into human intent for the individual employee. How do I know the electrician’s apprentice who comes into my house to fix a bad breaker box isn’t looking at my house as his friend’s next possible target. It still boggles me that the robbers in my example knew exactly where the security camera DVR was without searching for it. Be cautious about the individuals you allow access to your house and definitely try to conceal valuables. There is no point your wife’s jewelry collection should be left out on the dresser while the plumber is walking by to get to the master bathroom. At least restrict unsupervised access to areas of your house where a worker should not have access to. I believe this is one of the common “casing” tactics used by the operation in Florida that netted over 12 million dollars in stolen merchandise. Try to at least prevent the common mistakes and make it hard for them to do surveillance work. It might even eliminate you as a target.

Lesson 3. Predictability and Foresight

I believe I have to pay some credence to Kenneth Royce (aka. Boston T. Party) in this respect. I try not to take the same route home from work every day if possible. I try not to set myself up in a situation where I can be easily predicted, stalked, cornered, ambushed and abducted. I was in Mexico City some years back for an extended period of time and this has become standard operating procedure. I could write a whole post about the things you learn in a foreign country, but I am sure others could do it better. I am not overly paranoid and actually try to live my life fairly laid back. Kidnappings and Ransom became a way of life in Mexico. I hate to reference Hollywood, but see the movie Man on Fire and multiply it times 10. Criminal gangs do not go for the high value hard targets with ninja style SWAT team assaults. They are much happier putting in as little work as possible to grab the low hanging fruit. They are more than happy to go after middle managers and engineers (and their families) than they would be to go after plant managers and CEOs. Middle class individuals with a medium net income lack the tools and resources to protect themselves as well as a higher income individual with more to protect. Criminals do not mind, they will not starve. So for 1/10th of the risk, they will just hit 4 middle class families to reap just as much reward. Please do not think you are immune.

Have the foresight to see problems before they occur. The late Colonel Jeff Cooper always talked about levels of alertness — in a Color Code. This is not about being relaxed or being on edge, its about being conscious of your surroundings. The best advice that he gave was to know what something feels out of place and react to it. – Matt in Texas

Categories: Economic Collapse, OPSEC, Preparedness, Self-reliant, SHTF, Survival Education, Survival Skills, TEOTWAWKI | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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