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

Top 10 Survival Downloads You Should Have

Kudos to Activist Post for this link! They’ve got lots of survival/preparedness articles to check out.

Unless you have redundancy in producing electricity, enabling you to charge iPads, iPhones, and other electronic reader devices, I highly recommend printing hard copies of all survival related material. I organize mine in 3-ring binders by category. Just a thought.

Source: Activist Post

Date: December 30, 2010

Top 10 Survival Downloads You Should Have

Modern Survival Online

There are tons of good downloads in the Survival Database Download section of this website. For this article – I have selected 10 that everyone should have either printed and put away, or placed on a USB drive – or better yet both.

So – let’s get to it:

#10. FM 4-25-11 First Aid (2002) – Military First Aid Manual.  First aid information is a must – get training before you need it – use this manual for reference.

#9.  Guide to Canning – Being able to preserve crops to  be able to provide for yourself and your family long after the growing season is over is important. This guide will help with that.

#8. Rangers Handbook (2006) – Crammed with info on demolitions, booby traps, communications, patrolling, tactical movement, battle drills, combat intelligence and much more

 #7. Where There is No Dentist – The author uses straightforward language and careful instructions to explain how to: examine patients; diagnose common dental problems; make and use dental equipment; use local anesthetics; place fillings; and remove teeth.

#6. NATO Emergency War Surgery – While this is certainly not a manual that would stand alone in most persons emergency/disaster library, it is an absolutely necessary resource if you expect to handle any type of trauma where immediate comprehensive medical care is not available.

#5. A Guide to Raised Bed Gardening – This is not an “all knowing” gardening book – however it provides a lot of information to the “urban gardener” before or after TSHTF.  Best to get the experience and knowledge of gardening NOW rather than later.

#4. FM 3-06 Combined Arms Operations in Urban Terrain – Combat techniques covered in the manual which may be very valuable in a “Roadwarrior”-type world.

#3. 1881 Household Cyclopedia  – A massive resource of information that much of it has been lost over the past 203 generations. From Angling to Knitting – its here.

#2. FM 21-76-1 Survival-Evasion-Recovery (1999) – Excellent manual geared towards the soldier that finds himself behind enemy lines

#1. FM 21-76 US Army Survival Manual – From  This manual has been written to help you acquire survival skills. It tells you how to travel, find water and food, shelter yourself from the weather and care for yourself if you become sick or injured. This information is first treated generally and then applied specifically to such special areas as the Arctic, the desert, the jungle and the ocean.1970 Military Issue Manual. General Introduction and Individual and Group Survival Orientation Navigation, Finding Water In All Parts of The Globe. How To Obtain Food, Start a Fire and much more!

Categories: DIY Preparedness, Free Downloads, Preparedness, Self-reliant, SHTF, Survival, Survival Education, TEOTWAWKI | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wood Gas Generator

Tom Baugh is a former Marine, patented inventor, entrepreneur and professional irritant. He points us to Mother Earth News for a look at a wood gas generator. Buy his book, Starving the Monkeys, and check out his site while you’re at it.

by Tom Baugh

Wood Gas Generator
Don’t Overlook That Gasoline Engine

Any well-prepared survivalist knows that diesel engines are the preferred option after a collapse, right? Not necessarily.

True, unprepared gasoline is a wasting asset, but there is another side to that coin. A refinery is nothing more than a big fractional distillation column, but the principles are the same as in a moonshine still. Fractionally distill gasoline and you will wind up with a lot of sort-of-gasoline, but missing other things that are good for making cars run smooth, not knock, and be nice to plants. Screw the plants. Take out the middle fractions and reblend some of the rest, and you get a pretty good gasoline back. All those underground storage tanks are then full of pure liquid gold.

Besides, gasoline engines can be run from another fuel: wood. Back when our government wasn’t completely out to enslave us all, Oak Ridge came out with an excellent paper about how to convert a gasoline engine to run on wood in case of nuclear war. Kudos to Mother Earth News for archiving this 10MB file.

You can also find some interesting YouTube videos about this process, such as:

Or, search for “wood gas truck” or “wood gas generator” there. Which brings us to our next topic, generators. The same oomph that drives a wood gas truck can also drive a generator, or just tap the power from the truck’s alternator directly into your 12v storage batteries. Almost like it was made for it.

So, survival fans, don’t immediately discard those carbureted gasoline engines just yet.

Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Preparedness, Self-reliant, SHTF | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Week 44 of 52: Collapse Investing: Money and Wealth Preservation During Times of Uncertainty and Instability

Here’s week 44 of Tess Pennington’s excellent 52 Weeks to preparedness series over at Ready Nutrition. Mac Slavo of is the contributing author this week.

Week 44 of 52: Collapse Investing: Money and Wealth Preservation During Times of Uncertainty and Instability

Contributing Author
Ready Nutrition
May 2012

Special thanks to Mac Slavo of for contributing his time and efforts on this article.


We could spend a significant portion of our time outlining the various reasons for why the world’s economic, financial and political systems sit on the brink of an unprecedented paradigm shift that promises to change the landscape of the entire system as it exists today.

I could try to convince you that it’s a good idea to prepare for what’s coming, but the fact that you are reading this article via Tess’ Ready Nutrition newsletter means that you’re already in action planning and execution mode. If you’ve been following the 52 Weeks to Preparedness from the beginning, then you’ve spent the last 44 weeks establishing an emergency and disaster response plan that would probably make FEMA jealous.

Like Tess and I, you’ve probably done your research and spent months or years gathering as much information as you can about the many possibilities that could significantly impact your life and the lives of your family members and close friends, and you’ve actively involved yourself in making sure that you’re as insulated as possible from whatever may befall us.

My initial inclination when Tess asked me to contribute some thoughts on wealth preservation during times of uncertainty was to point out the fundamental economic problems and fraud facing the system. I realized after delving into this topic that, while the ramifications of an economic or currency collapse are life alteringly severe, my family’s personal preparedness plans have always been focused on ensuring we’re ready for anything that gets thrown our way – not just an economic crisis.

The strategy that we try to employ is well rounded and considers as many variables as possible.

  • Natural Disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, flood, solar flare
  • Man-made calamities like currency hyperinflation, cyber attack, EMP detonation, nuclear fallout or global conflict
  • Personal emergencies like a job loss, injury or over-extension of credit

With this idea in mind, when we look at the concept of investing and wealth preservation for uncertain times, we want to employ a strategy that will provide as much coverage as possible so that if we are hit out of the blue with something totally unexpected, we’ll at least have the basic necessities to survive.

While I’ll stop short of advising you to sell all of the stocks and bonds in your 401(k) account and investing all of your proceeds into ‘preps’, a little diversification could mean the difference between surviving a disaster, or succumbing to it.

Keep your 401(k), IRA or other investment accounts, but consider expanding your horizons with a new 401(Prep) strategy as well.

The Currency of Kings

Gold is the currency of kings, Silver the currency of noblemen, and Debt the currency of slaves. 

While disregarded by mainstream economists as a relic of civilizations past, gold still remains a highly sought after asset by central banks around the world including those of China, India, Venezuela, Iran and a host of other countries losing faith in the petro-dollar reserve currency system. We’ve seen it rise to record breaking nominal highs in the last ten years for a reason. Those in the know – including investors who understand that gold always rises during periods of uncertainty and crisis – have been acquiring gold and its cousin silver for over a decade and have seen it’s value increase multi-fold.

We need look only at recent history to see what happens when economies and currencies of nations collapse. When the monetary systems of the Weimar Republic, Argentina, and Zimbabwe collapsed their currencies literally became worthless over night. During Germany’s hyperinflation people were burning wheel barrows of paper money just to stay warm. When Zimbabwe’s currency hyper inflated over a period of about 10 years, a loaf of bread went from one $1 to $1 trillion dollars; today there are people panning for granules of gold in Zimbabwe’s rivers so that they can purchase bread to eat for a day.

While nothing is guaranteed, history has proven one thing about gold and silver. There is and always will be a buyer for these precious metals. And if there is a central bank or large investor buying, that demand will always trickle down into the rest of the economy – even if it is operating as a black market.

If you want to expand your portfolio to include precious metals, here are some considerations:

  • A single ounce of gold stores more value than silver. If you need portability for a large amount of wealth gold coins and bars will be your primary precious metals investment. Currently an ounce of gold is about $1550. With less than a pound of coins in your purse or backpack you can conveniently move $25,000 in value.
  • What gold offers in portability it lacks in divisibility. This is where silver comes in. You may not be able to move $25,000 of silver conveniently (weighing around 50 pounds!). But because of it’s lower value per ounce silver is an excellent mechanism of exchange for things like food, gas, clean water, or tools if the dollar hyper-inflates or crashes. You can purchase silver in bars (100 oz, 10 oz) or coins (1 ounce, or U.S. government issued pre-1965 halves, quarters and dimes). With the smaller denomination coins like US quarters you will have portability for a small amount of cash (40 quarters is about $150 dollars worth) and you’ll have coinage that should allow you the ability to purchase just about any item someone is willing to sell.
  • When buying gold or silver, buy from reputable sources like your local coin shop or an online dealer like Apmex or Kitco.
  • The only exception we can make to the above rule is for the purchase of pre-1965 U.S. government minted 90% silver coinage. While we would avoid purchasing any other coins on auction sites like ebay, there are often some great deals to be found on half dollars, quarters and dimes containing 90% silver (pre-1965 coins only!). You can also purchase Kennedy half dollars dated 1965-1969 containing 40% silver content. Since these coins are government issued and in such small denominations, the possibility that they are counterfeit decreases significantly.
  • Silver allows you to make modest, weekly investments of anywhere from $5 to $50 dollars and still build a store of wealth.
  • To get the current price of silver and gold, as well as the specific prices for dated U.S. coins, check out the calculators at
  • If you are investing a large sum of money into precious metals, gather details about the types of coins you are buying, especially if you’re buying gold. Acquire a coin caliper and/or testing kit to ensure you’re getting what is being advertised.

While you may be able to easily utilize gold and silver as a mechanism of exchange at the onset of a crisis to buy much needed supplies during a currency meltdown and use it to exchange for land or equipment during a recovery period, you may be faced with a period of time when no one will be interested in your PM’s. Selco of SHTF School points out that gold is not the silver bullet the provides complete insulation from TEOTWAWKI. When all hell breaks loose, as it did in the Balkans in the 1990′s, and a war is being fought right outside of your front window, gold and silver may not get you very far, as people are more concerned with the immediate need of getting out of harm’s way than they are with anything else.

With that in mind, and for those who (correctly) argue that we can’t eat our gold, let’s continue diversifying our 401(prep) account.

Commodity Investing with Zero Counter-party Risk

In this type of environment where nobody can get a safe return on their money within the United States that beats the official rate of inflation, buying canned foods and such is actually a better investment than a Treasury bill. What I would look to do is have a backup supply of at least several months of the basic commodities you need to live with – canned food, toilet paper, as well as barter items…
-John Williams, Economist,

One thing analysts and financial pundits agree on is that, in general, commodities will continue to rise. As central banks continue to inflate their money and hundreds of millions of people in once under-developed nations join the ranks of the global working class, the demand for food once reserved for the middle class in America and Europe will rise in countries like China and India. The end result is a higher cost for corn, rice, wheat, meat and other staples.

Thus, as the experts suggest, investing in commodities may be an excellent way to grow, or at the very least preserve, your money. Where I disagree with the experts is how to invest in such assets. While you can purchase Exchange Traded Funds or contracts that follow specific commodities, the inherent problem with these investments is that, even though you have a paper receipt that says you own a particular commodity, if it’s not in your possession your are subject to counter-party risk. What I mean by this is that if the investment firm (or the numerous associated firms) has a problem and goes out of business, your paper receipt may become worthless. A recent example of this was the MF Global scandal, where the investment firm headed by a trusted former governor of New Jersey actually took the deposits and commodity investments of their depositors and transferred those assets to other investment banks days before completely collapsing. Their clients, who had receipts to prove ownership, were left with nothing.

If you’re investing into commodities because you expect prices to rise dramatically, then you must also assume that those dramatic price rises will result from either a currency crisis, or shortages caused by exceedingly high demand or adverse weather conditions (think Great Depression dust bowl). That being said, the only sound method of investing in these assets is for you to take physical delivery – just like you would with gold.

For food, your best bet would be to look at the 11 Emergency Foods That Last a Lifetime. Dry goods like rice, wheat, beans, salt, honey, and dry milk will provide you with an investment that will grow in value as prices rise, and also offer you peace of mind in case paper markets crash because you’ll be in direct possession of your food. How much food should you add to your 401prep investment portfolio? It depends on the size of your family and your time horizon. Think about what could cause a massive price rise in food prices and you’ll realize that whatever the crisis is, it could be long-term. The following food storage calculator can help you to determine how much inventory you may need and allows you to break your purchases into weekly shopping trips so you don’t have to invest thousands of dollars up front.

In addition to food, there are a variety of other commodities that you won’t want to live without if the system comes crashing down around us – so consider adding these to your preps as well:

  • Toilet paper , various toiletries, hygiene products
  • Cooking oils
  • Off-grid lamps and fuel
  • Over the counter medicine like ointments, aspirin, anti-diarrheals, anti-constipation meds, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide
  • Hand sanitizer (you’ll want lots of this because clear water may be hard to come by and disease will be rampant)
  • Lighters (highly recommended barter item from the Balkan collapse)
  • Ammunition
  • Teas, coffee, cigarettes, drinking alcohol
  • Off-grid survival tools like hand saws, hand drills, etc. (this may also include low-power requirement tools that you can charge with solar power or other alt energy)
  • Antibiotics (Here’s one survival item that will be worth more than gold in a post-collapse world!)
  • Read the Emergency Items: What Will Disappear First for more ideas

Investing in these asset was a sound practice in January of 2010 when I first recommended it (you’d be up over 25% today!) and it’s a good strategy today, because as you well know things aren’t looking any better on the economic and monetary front.

When investing in commodities you’ll want to ensure that you are able to physically store your assets so that they are available when you need them post. Be sure to properly store all foods for the long-term.

Land and Real Estate

Agricultural commodities are the place to be in for investors. It will be farmers not bankers driving Ferraris.
-Jim Rogers, Contrarian Investor

You may be surprised to see real estate listed here as a 401(prep) related asset, especially considering that the average price collapse in housing since the crash has been about 30%, with some areas of the country seeing in excess of 50% shaved off of bubble-top prices.

With real estate prices still dropping, it’s certainly not a bad idea to wait for further price reductions before jumping into a new home, especially if you are planning on paying cash. One thing to consider however, is that if you aren’t paying cash for a home and are looking to take on a mortgage then you are in one of the best interest environments we’ll experience perhaps in our lifetimes. Money is cheap, and if you happen across the right property, taking advantage of those low interest loans may be the right thing to do. As the dollar continues its decline and confidence in our ability to repay our debt is lost, you will likely see interest rates rise significantly. During the inflation crisis of the late 70′s and early 80′s some mortgage rates were running as high as 18%, so getting in now may not be a bad idea, especially if you are not planning on flipping your house any time soon and you have an investment time horizon in excess of a decade.

But what is the right property?

Being prepper-minded, I immediately dismiss the possibility of buying a home in a urban or suburban setting. The fact is that these kinds of homes are, in my eyes, liabilities. They have absolutely no productive capacity whatsoever, thus I have hard time looking at them as assets. Moreover, if we’re planning on the S hitting the fan, we want to be in a low population area, something that our typical cookie cutter neighborhoods in big cities simply can’t provide.

When we talk about real estate and land investments during times of crisis we want to focus on a property that will give us the ability to produce something – anything of value. In the event you lose your current income flow, or if the system falls apart, you’ll want to be on a piece of property that allows you to produce some of the commodities we discussed above – either for personal use or to run as a business if employment becomes difficult or impossible to acquire.

Thus, when looking at land, look for land that will provide you and your family with productive capacity. If you can do this, you’ll have turned your home and land into an asset instead of the typical liability held by most Americans.

You’ll also be much closer to achieving self reliance by being as off the grid as is possible, so you are no longer dependent on services provided by the government or large business conglomerates.

Here are some thoughts on real estate investing based in part on Ten Things That Make a Survival Homestead:

  • Does your land have the space and soil to allow you to grow a vegetable, herb or fruit garden? Even limited space can be used to product a huge amount of food, so you can be flexible on land size if your financial situation requires it.
  • Are you able to produce your own energy – perhaps install solar panels, mini-wind turbines or some type of hydro power if you have a stream or river? Whether the world collapses around us or not, energy self reliance is a long-term benefit that will reduce or eliminate your utility bills, something that will insulate you from not only a collapse of our power grid, but keep the energy flowing to your home if you experience a personal financial catastrophe that makes it difficult to pay your bills.
  • Do you have enough land to raise livestock? The bottom line is that people will always need food, and if you can provide that food you’ll always have customers willing to buy it or trade for it. Space is an important consideration for livestock, but there are ways to raise poultry, goats and even micro Dexter cows without a huge pasture. Look into micro-livestocking for some ideas (it’s something you can even do in suburbia if your HOA allows it!).
  • You need a water source. This is self explanatory. You can’t grow food or keep animals if you don’t have water. Either make sure you have a well, or a river or stream with easy access so you can collect or divert water to irrigate your garden.
  • Another water solution that provides multiple benefits is a pond. Not only will it provide water, but you can expand your offerings by raising fish to boot!
  • Can you defend your property? In addition to the commodities listed above, other physical assets to look at acquiring are property and self defense supplies like barbed wire fencing to protect your inner perimeter, flood lights or another alarm system for the external perimeter, empty sang bags that you can quickly fill if needed.

Owning land is a dream held by most individuals. But, few people understand the difference between your home being a liability vs. an asset. If you’re going to be buying (or even renting) land I strongly suggest you look into how you can make your home work for you, instead of the other way around.

Get Some Skills!

I don’t even have any good skills. You know, like nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills…
Napolean Dynamite

I have a friend who is a specialist in piping design and engineering. In his spare time he builds high quality copper water/alcohol distillation units. Sitting around testing his first unit, my friend and I began discussing the various applications for such an apparatus and how knowledge of manufacturing such units would be an essential skill in a post-collapse world. With his distillation units one can not only purify their water over an open fire, but can also produce drinking alcohol, antiseptics and fuel grade ethanol to run a generator. His project initially started as a hobby, and has since turned into a fledgling side business. If the system collapses, and my friend loses his job in the engineering sector, he will always have his skills of manufacturing to fall back on. In addition to producing distillation units, he is a lifetime prepper, so he is well versed in the manufacture of anything from traps and snares for animals, to making his own ammunition.

The point of this story is that every one of us, even though some of us may sit at a computer all day or work a retail counter, has something we know how to do. Get better at it and consider how you may be able to apply these skills in a post collapse world.

Also of note is that if you are skilled at something – machining, sewing, food preservation or some other skills – stock up on the necessary supplies to run your business now, because they won’t be available. My friend who manufactures distillation units is heavily invested in copper piping and related materials. While copper may not be a practical investment for you because of your skill set, perhaps yarn or canning jars are.

Every one of us is unique, and we each have different life experiences, skills and backgrounds. This is great news for post-collapse survivors, because you can be assured that American innovation will always return with a vengeance. Necessity will be the mother of invention in a post collapse world, and while knitting sweaters for the Holidays may be a hobby for you now, it could be the skill that sets you apart and keeps your family fed if traditional commerce breaks down.

The following list is based in part on The Barter Value of Skills and will give you some ideas on ways you will be able to exchange your time and energy for yield (money, trade, etc.) in a post-collapse world:

  • First Aid or Critical Aid (Whether you are an EMT or just have basic first aid training, your skills will be in high demand during a serious crisis)
  • Midwifery/delivering babies because there won’t be any hospitals
  • Animal Husbandry – Those who haven’t developed animal rearing skills will call on you to help them with their animals or ranching. If you have a large enough post-collapse survival property, you may even be able to lease space on your property for others.
  • Blacksmithing, Carpentry, Construction, Machining, and any host of other skills that will be required for jobs that we take for granted today because of home improvement mega stores.
  • Mechanics – Whether it’s for small engines like generators or understanding the inner workings of alternative energy, there will always be a need for skilled mechanics. After a collapse it will be difficult if not impossible to buy new items like we do in our current consumptive paradigm. Learning to fix what’s already out there will be a fantastic way to make a living.
  • Food preservation, sewing/mending, soap and candle making, production of alternative medicines (with herbs from your garden) will all be skills that are in demand.
  • Also see Top Post-Collapse Barter Items And Trade Skills for more ideas

Planning for the Unknown with 401(Prep) Investing

If there is one thing we can say about our current economic, financial, social and political climate it’s that we have entered an era in human history of total unpredictability. While we can theorize about what may or may not happen, we need to understand that we are operating on limited information. As Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once said :

There are known knowns – there are things we know we know.

We also know there are known unknowns – that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.

But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

As humorous as Rumsfeld’s comments were to the press in the room, there is quite a bit of insight to be gleaned from them.

The key takeaway is that we really don’t know what we know or don’t know, so plan for the worst. Furthermore, ensure that your preparedness plans are flexible enough to be applied to situations that we haven’t even contemplated as even being possible.

While the ideas listed above may not work for everyone, I hope I’ve been able to present an informative enough primer on Collapse Investing to get your mind working on how you can apply your specific situation and skills to a complete action and execution plan.

Best wishes to you all.

Get Prepped, Stay Prepped.

Mac Slavo 

Action Items:

  1. Research how other countries used alternative currencies in post-shtf emergencies. Some great online resources are FerFAL’s Surviving in Argentina, Selco’s SHTF School.
  2. Familiarize yourself with alternative currencies that could be deemed valuable during a post-SHTF scenario.
  3. Familiarize and become proficient in skill sets that would be seen as profitable during an extended emergency.

Author: Contributing Author
Web Site:

Date: May 12th, 2012

Categories: Barter, DIY Preparedness, Economic Collapse, Preparedness, Self-reliant, SHTF, TEOTWAWKI | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Food Freebies in Your Own Backyard by Tess Pennington

Wildcrafting is a hobby of mine now. It might become essential when the shelves are emptied at the local grocery store. Tess Pennington offers great advice and resources at

Food Freebies in Your Own Backyard

Tess Pennington
Ready Nutrition
April 2012

Even if you live in a city, you might be shocked to find out how much food is available, free for the taking. I’m not talking about shoplifting from the corner store – I’m talking about foraging.

In ancient times, humans were hunter/gatherers.  Gatherers spent the day seeking nuts, berries and edible plants. These items were then turned into a nutritious meal or beverage.

The first rule of foraging is BE ABSOLUTELY SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE EATING. Foraging can be deadly if you eat the wrong thing.

The best way to learn to forage is to find someone who knows how to find all the best goodies. A teacher can speed the learning curve up immensely, and they are likely to know the best local places to find the items.

Unfortunately we can’t always find a willing instructor. If it turns out that you’re on your own, the next best option is a good field guide with photographs. You can often find field guides geared to your local terrain at hiking and camping stores.  Your local bookstore and Amazon are other good resources. You can buy a more general guide, say, for North America, but there will be a lot of information that isn’t pertinent to your area.

When foraging in an urban environment, you have to be very careful that your finds are not contaminated. They can be contaminated with many different toxins, from pesticides to pollution. You will want to stay away from major roadways and railroad tracks, for example. If you are in farm country you don’t want to be in an area that may be contaminated with animal waste from runoff.

Personally, I strictly avoid mushrooms in my search for wild foods. The edible mushrooms and the toxic ones are very similar in appearance, and not something you want to learn by trial and error, as the error could be fatal. There are many books on the subject that cover proper identification if you are a braver soul.

In the city you can often find fruit trees like mulberries and apple trees.  If it appears that the fruits are not being harvested, ask the owner’s permission and bring a bucket!  In the wild, you can find blueberries, blackberries and huckleberries in great abundance.  These fruits are easily recognizable and a great place to start.

There are many edible greens but none more recognizable than the ubiquitous dandelion. Every bit of the dandelion is edible, from the flower right down to the roots. Pick them in the spring when flowers are still yellow for the mildest flavor.

To get started, make a list of in-season items that are familiar to you. Choose a hiking destination, grab your field guide, bring along some containers and start gathering!

Mother Earth News compiled a brief list of some edible plants that can commonly be found in North America:

Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Chicory (Cichorium)
Curly dock (Rumex crispus)
Dandelion (Taraxacum)
Fiddleheads (various fern species)
Lamb’s quarters, goosefoot (Chenopdium)
Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
Nettle (Urtica)
Peppercress (Cardamine)
Pigweed (Amaranthus)
Plantain (Plantago)
Pokeweed (Phytolacca)
Purslane (Portulaca)
Seaweeds — dulse, kelp, laver, wrack
Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)
Watercress (Nasturtium)
“Wild” asparagus (Asparagus officinalis ssp. prostratus)
Wild mustard (Brassica)
Wild horsemint, bee balm (Monarda punctata)

Arrowhead, wapatoo (Sagittaria variabilis)
American lotus, water chinquapin (Nelumbo lutea)
Jerusalem artichoke, sunchoke (Helianthus tuberosus)
Ramps, ramson, wild leek (Allium tricoccum)
Burdock (Arctium)
Grassnut, California hyacinth (Brodiaea capitata)
Groundnut (Apios tuberosa)
Prairie turnip, Prairie potato (Psoralea esculenta)
Cattail (Typha latifolia)
Camas, quamash (Camassia esculenta)
Chufa, nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus)
Sego lily (Calochortus Nuttallii)
Coontie, Florida arrowroot (Zamia pumila)

Wild strawberry (Fragaria)
Red and black raspberry, wineberry (Rubus)
Blackberry (Rubus)
Blueberry (Vaccinium)
Wild grapes (Vitis)
Mulberry (Morus)
Juneberry, serviceberry (Amelanchier)
Chokeberry (Aronia)
Elderberry (Sambucus)
Wild cherry (Prunus)
Wild plum (Prunus)
Gooseberry (Ribes)
Buffalo currant (Ribes)
Persimmon (Diospyros)
Rose hips (Rosa)
Prickly pear, tuna (Opuntia)
Pawpaw (Asimina)

Acorn (Quercus)
Beechnut (Fagus grandifolia)
Black walnut (Juglans nigra)
Butternut (Fuglans cinerea)
Chia (Salvia species)
Hickory (Carya)
Pecan (Carya illinoensis)
Pine nut, pinyon (Pinus species)
Sunflower (Helianthus species)
Wild rice (Zizania)

Once you’ve brought your bounty home, be certain to wash it very carefully. Look up instructions specific to the food before preparing it, because wild foods can have some unexpected peculiarities. For example, pokeweed can cause severe intestinal distress if you don’t change the water several times when boiling it.

There is little you can do to become more self-reliant than learning to find your own food in the wild. Today, foraging might be just another of your eccentric hobbies. Tomorrow, that eccentric hobby could save your life.

A few suggestions:

A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides)

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies

Wild Harvest: Edible Plants of the Pacific Northwest

Author: Tess Pennington
Web Site:

Date: April 29th, 2012

Categories: DIY Preparedness, Preparedness, Self-reliant, SHTF, Survival, Wildcrafting | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Roots, Twigs, Bark and Parts: The Home Apothecary

Great article over at Rural Spin. I’ve included the entire post below. Pay them a visit by clicking here for great info on living sustainably, self-sufficiently, naturally, and cheaply.

Semper Vigilans,


Roots, Twigs, Barks and Parts: The Home Apothecary

29 Mar

Medicinal herbs can be made into tinctures, infusions, tisanes, powders, and more.

You can heal yourself and your family frugally by making many remedies in your own kitchen, using plants from your garden or that you’ve foraged. Making your own home remedies from plants (called herbalism) isn’t hard once you understand the basic methods involved, and the home apothecary can also include many preventative concoctions that will help prevent illness in the first place. While there are many medical conditions that will require the intervention of a doctor (be it a Western or Eastern practitioner, or a Naturopath), herbalism is the oldest form of medicine and there’s a reason we still use it today. In fact, many medical drugs requiring a prescription are made using plants.

This ‘spin is devoted to the methods involved when making home medicines. In future ‘spins we’ll focus on specific ingredients. But there is such a huge pharmacopoeia worldwide of beneficial and medicinal plants, it will be hard to pick which ones to focus on! But no matter which plant you use, these are the basic methods you’ll use to process your plants for the home apothecary:


Tinctures are made using a base of alcohol (such as vodka) into which you steep your plants for a period of time, depending upon the plant you’re using. After the recommended steep time, the mixture is strained through muslin or cheese cloth to remove all of the plant parts, and stored in a dark glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Tinctures are usually taken as drops, and because of this are frequently stored in bottles where the lid doubles as a dropper. Tinctures last for quite awhile because of their alcohol base, which acts as a preservative for the active ingredients.

Pine bud tea is an example of an infusion, where plant parts are steeped in hot water then drunk immediately.


Another term for infusion is tea. Dried or fresh leaves and flowers are steeped for about 10 minutes in water that has come to a boil then removed from heat, to extract the active ingredients (do not boil the herbs, just steep them in the hot water). The most medicinal benefit occurs from drinking a fresh infusion rather than one that has sat in the refrigerator.

A tisane is a mild form of an infusion, and generally comes packaged in tea bags. Tisanes (such as chamomile tea or peppermint tea) are steeped for shorter periods of time. Syrups are also forms of infusions, where honey, maple syrup, or similar is added in enough concentration to thicken the infusion.


Roots, twigs, barks, and berries are the plant parts used in decoctions. Boiling water is needed to extract the active ingredients, and unlike infusions, the plant parts are indeed boiled along with the water. After the recommended boiling period (which varies depending upon the plant), the liquid is then strained and is frequently served hot with a sweetener such as honey. Decoctions will last for about three days when stored in the refrigerator.


Essential oils are frequently used in tinctures, steam inhalation, aromatherapy, and therapeutic massage, but it is only through steam distillation that you can make your own proper essential oils. Because of this, it is often easier to purchase essential oils for use in the home medicine cabinet as it can take quite a lot of herbs to distill them at home.


“Extract” is a generic term used to describe tinctures, infusions, and decoctions. It simply refers to active ingredients from plants that are extracted for use in a liquid form. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with other terms but it is important to understand the distinction, especially if you need to discuss a problem with a health care practitioner (just to make sure you’re both on the same page).


For some delicate plants or sensitive chemicals in the plants, hot water is too harsh and might negate the medicinal benefits offered by the plant. In these cases bruised plant parts are covered with cold water and left to sit overnight, which provides time for the plant chemicals to seep in the water. In the morning the plant parts are strained out and the liquid is taken internally.


Powdered plant parts can be added to liquids or onto foods, or placed into capsules. You must thoroughly dry the plant parts first, and then grind them fine using a mortar and pestle, or a coffee grinder.

Ginger is very versatile and can be taken internally via decoctions and powders, and externally as poultices or compresses.


Unlike the above methods, compresses and poultices are applied externally directly onto what ails you. Crushed plant parts are used for poultices, first boiling the plants so they become soft and pliable. You can also mix powders with warm water to make a poultice. Poultices help to soothe bruises, and help heal open wounds and abscesses.

Compresses differ slightly in that cloth is soaked in an infusion or decoction, then applied to the skin. They are milder than poultices, and can be held close to the skin via a bandage if needed.

Categories: DIY Preparedness, Preparedness, Self-reliant, SHTF | Tags: , , | 39 Comments

Cash is Out, Bartering is King

It’s yard sale season now! It’s a great place and time to practice bartering skills and picking up cheap but valuable items. Part of my preps are acquiring items the majority of folks take for granted but will have huge value in an economic collapse situation. Fire, water, smokes, salt, spices, sanitation/hygiene items, etc. are just a few things that will buy me things I need and can’t produce myself in a SHTF event. Below, Tess Pennington pens her advice on items to stock for bartering. Don’t think it can happen here. Look at Greece. Spain is soon to follow. 

Author: Tess Pennington

Date: April 26th, 2012

Reality tells us that we may soon be coming to a point in which cash is no longer king.  The economy has been drying up for years.  Over one million Americans filed their initial unemployment claim over the last month.  The dollars we bring home are buying less on every trip to the grocery store.

Few of us are completely self-sufficient.  There are always going to be a few things that we cannot make for ourselves.  If your personal preps are in order, consider investing your prep dollars in a new way: purchase barter items!

A lot of things that are inexpensive now will be invaluable later.  As the economy collapses even further, people will be focused on survival and the barter system will reignite.  Barter items will be far better than cash – you can’t eat a dollar!

What kind of items will be worth their weight in gold?  Check out this list for a few suggestions:

  • Matches and lighters
  • Seeds
  • Canning jars, lids and rings
  • First aid items
  • Tools
  • Water Filtration Supplies
  • Sewing supplies
  • Vitamins
  • Salt
  • Feminine Hygiene Supplies
  • Vitamins
  • Fishing Supplies
  • Fuel (gasoline, propane, kerosene, etc)
  • Sweeteners such as honey, sugar and syrup
  • Coffee/Tea
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Liquor
  • Cigarettes/tobacco
  • Small packages of food (baggies of beans/rice, etc)
  • Livestock
  • Cooking oil
  • Firewood
  • Farm supplies (pesticides, fertilizer, etc.)
  • Weapons, Ammo *
  • Batteries
  • Warm clothing
  • Hats/Gloves (think about those little dollar store stretchy items)
  • Soap/shampoo
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Dental care items (toothbrushes/toothpaste/floss)

*Caution: Exercise great discretion when bartering with weapons and ammunition.  It is entirely possible that those items could be used against you to take your supplies.  These are items to be bartered only with someone you trust implicitly or as an absolute last resort.

Barter items can be purchased at the dollar store, the flea market or at liquidation houses.  Don’t forget yard sales – even though you already possess a meat grinder, someone who has ammo that you need might not have one. Items that you can acquire and store inexpensively may one day be more valuable than gold.

Don’t forget about the items that you can produce yourself.  This goes hand-in-hand with the barter of skills.  Stock up on the supplies you need to create the following items for a long-term flow of “income”.

  • Fresh produce
  • Ammunition (see *caution above)
  • Home canned items
  • Preserved meats (jerky, ham, etc)
  • Warm knitted or crocheted items (mittens, hats, scarves)
  • Yarn spun from animal fibers
  • Homemade candy
  • Homemade soap
  • Homemade candles
  • Wooden or clay bowls and plates
  • Herbal remedies

Use this list to get your creative juices flowing.  What items do you possess the ability to make?  Which of these items will be particularly useful if the grid goes down or if the economy crumbles?

What items are you stocking up on for life in a potential barter-based economy?  Please share your ideas below!

Author: Tess Pennington

Date: April 26th, 2012

Categories: Barter, Economic Collapse, equipment, Preparedness, Self-reliant, SHTF, Survival | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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