Preppers Forget, So Many Haven’t​ A Clue.

Here’s a article posted today in Lifehacker.  We that live a prepper’s life, or should I even say, Professional Preppers, sometimes forget  that most of our neighbors, family and friends haven’t a clue.  We read, understand the fragility of our modern world, doubt government’s true intentions, and lastly, try to be self reliant.  This has enabled we that prep to gather items and supplies to wary the storm, what ever that may be.  Most people live life with blinders, travelling from home, to McDonald’s, to work, to Starbucks, to Taco Bell, to Home never to think about the conviences they take for granted on a daily basis.  Never second guessing that the light switch turns on the light, or the stove just clicks and works, or when hungry just go through the drive-through.  Well, here’s an article of someone that seems to have had an “Awakening” of sorts.  It’s definitely not easy for someone in a large city apartment to be prepared, but she definitely starts thinking.  Give it a read and see what you think.

lifehacker Doomsday Prep for Non-Paranoid People.

10 Best Survival Rifles, Protect Your Family, Hunt, SHTF

Everyone has their own favorite, best, or go-to rifle. When deciding on a rifle for bugging out, buggin in, defensive, offensive, and just plain’old usefulness you need to consider many factors.

Everyone has their own favorite, best, or go-to rifle.  When deciding on a rifle for bugging out, buggin in, defensive, offensive, and just plain’old usefulness you need to consider many factors.

  • Ease of use
  • Supply of ammunition
  • Cost of ammunition
  • effectiveness for job intended
  • portability
  • serviceability

That being said, listing the 10 “best survival rifles” requires some compromise and some decisions to prioritize your most important features. There is no single perfect survival rifle.  It doesn’t exist because everyone’s concerns are different and there are too many unique survival scenarios to consider.

Also owning ten survival rifles won’t do you much good, unless you have a very large family or a caddy to carry all your guns and ammo, and that stuff isn’t too light, if you haven’t noticed. So I decided to fight conventional wisdom and focus primarily on the top five (or what I consider the best of each survival category) and then give you five runner-ups.

Questions you need to ask yourself.  What are the roles we expect out survival rifles to play?

  1. Hunting Small game
  2. Hunting Large game
  3. Perimeter-defense beyond 200 yards
  4. Self-defense inside 200 yards
  5. Self-defense in close quarters

So let’s take a look at each task and the best survival rifles to accomplish them.

Hunting Small Game

In an actual survival situation, you may need to live off the land, and that means we can’t overlook small game.

There are a lot more squirrel, rabbit, possum and other varmints around than there are deer. Shooting a buck might feed the family for weeks, but those won’t be as common as smaller, more plentiful game.

Squirrel is easily found, even in urban areas and can be harvesting easily and feed your family.

But in the small game arena, there are many excellent rifles, each firing a variety of respectable calibers.

Great calibers for small game.

.17 HMR cartridge is flat shooting, very high velocity round and realize it’s the be all and end all of the varmint rounds.

.22 Magnum is a powerful small round, higher velocity than .22 LR, fired by great extremely accurate rifles.  Enough power to take coyotes and mid sized animals, but more expense than .22 LR.

.22 LR is by far the most popular choice and the most versatile for various reasons.  Plentiful and inexpensive, Usually.

Reason 1 – The .22 LR is never in stock at your wally world, because people recognize this cartridge as the most versatile, desirable, and affordable survival round. People hoard them by the thousands when they do become available.

Reason 2 – It’s the only cartridge I know where you can walk around with a thousand rounds in your pocket—or a lifetime supply in your backpack. They don’t weight much.

So it’s a well-established fact that the .22 LR makes the grade for best survival small game caliber. So let’s choose our small game survival rifle to match the best survival ammo. And there’s only one choice:

10/22 Ruger Takedown
10/22 Ruger Takedown

1. The Scoped Ruger 10/22 Take-down

Ruger 10/22 platform has been around since 1964.  Since the 10/22 has been around for so long, it has been one of the most reliable, semi-automatic rifles, and you can easily modify your rifle with many aftermarket products available.

The Ruger and the Remington are competitors in the semi-automatic .22LR regime, however, over the years the public has voted with their pocketbooks and the Ruger comes out on top.

Plus, the newer take-down versions break down into component pieces. So you can easily store it in a backpack to be reassembled later as the situation requires. Perfect for those who’s survival plan includes bugging out.

Remmington 700 Survival RifleHunting Large Game

So your family is sick of squirrel and rabbit stew, and suddenly that ten point buck presents itself at 300 yards. Which rifle do you wish you had in your hands in that situation?

You will need a cartridge that can have power at 300 yards. You also need to kill that deer with one shot. You don’t want to wound him and then lose him.

If you do get off a bad shot but you still hit him, you want something that will slow him down so you can track. So we’re not talking about mid-sized cartridges, like a 125 grain 5.56 or 7.62 x 39mm traveling at 2100-2400 FPS.

You want something in the 170-220 grain region in .30 caliber soft-point or better traveling 2700-3000 FPS. We’re talking .30-06, .308 Winchester or .300 Win Mag.

So what is the best rifle for delivery of this type bullet? Well the US Army and US Marine Corps are pretty good references to begin with.

2. Remington 700

The Remington 700, in one form or another, has been the mainstay of the bolt-action snipers around the world for decades.

The Remington 700 in military trim is still a frontline bolt action sniper rifle. A high-quality scope is a must for this long range survival rifle.  So you can’t go cheap on optics if you want something that is going to last.

AR15 Rifle
AR15 Rifle


Perimeter Defense

Keeping the bad guys away from your people by killing them at long range is usually a safer bet than having them at your front door.

Your personal morality may have to come into question on how you potentially handle a SHTF situation and protecting your family. However, you decide to send a message to others to stay away, you will want precision and make an impactful statement.

That means you need accuracy and lethality.

So why not pick the Remington 700? Surely, if your survival rifle can take down a deer at 400 yards, it can take down a man at 400 yards. No doubt. However, the benefit of the bolt action on accuracy is also a liability when it comes to quick follow up shots or multiple moving targets.

The deer might stand there wondering what the kicked up dirt next to it means and wait there for a second follow up shot, but humans will realize immediately what’s happening.

So a semi-automatic option is your best choice when hunting the “most dangerous game”; Man.

3. AR-15

When we’re talking semi-auto, lethal and accurate at these ranges, we’re talking a scoped AR-15 in 5.56 NATO—or maybe a scoped AR-10 in .308 NATO. The AR-10 has the better knockdown power, however, the recoil of the 5.56 mm round fired from an AR-15 with a quality buffer is negligible, so your aim is less affected.

Your shots should come fast, with easy acquisition of your second, third and fourth targets. Quality AR-15s are cheaper than the AR-10 and so is the 5.56 mm round.

You can carry quite a few rounds on your person as opposed to the .308, .30-06 or the like, and they are readily available and affordable—at least before the excrement hits the fan. So stock up.

AK-47 rifle
AK-47 rifle


Self-defense Inside 200 Yards

In close quarters, you need a weapon that is both accurate and reliable.

There’s a reason weapons developed for military use, are perfect for 200 yards or less.  They were designed for that exact purpose. We’re talking guaranteed lethal hits on man-sized targets at less than 100 yards. There is one other significant problem at this distance—you can expect the bad guys to shoot back.

In close quarters, every round you fire must count, and the weapon cannot malfunction. A rifle malfunction at 400 yards takes just a moment to clear—a moment you might not have at 50 yards. So what would I recommend?

4. AK-47

There is only one logical choice—the favorite weapon of every bad guy, dictator, and communist in the world—the AK-47.

I’m not talking about a real full-auto AK-47. You can’t just pick up a full auto AK-47 on Gunbroker. I’m talking about semi-automatic AK-47 variants and there are many versions and brands, but the beautiful thing about them, is they all work the same.

A full auto is relatively useless, unless you are fighting in a small room or spraying and praying to provide covering fire for someone else. Accuracy goes out the window in full auto and you waste a valuable resource, bullets.

The AK design is tough and designed for the mechanical torture of full auto operation. In semi-auto operation, everything is simple, over-engineered and reliable.

I’ve owned a couple cheap AK variants over the years and have fired thousands of rounds through them. I don’t even clean it very often and I have never experienced a jam.

The 7.62×39 mm round is lethal and even cheaper than the 5.56 mm. Inside 200 yards the AK has decent accuracy. However, the one concession I would make is to add a red-dot sight to enhances the shooting experience and buy many magazines.  With the 30 round magazine as standard and keep them loaded and ready in your gun safe.

Mossberg 500 Chainsaw
Mossberg 500 Chainsaw
Self-Defense In Close Quarters

In an urban area, you can’t keep people from getting close to home.

At this point in a perfect world, you could choose to engage the bad guy with a handgun—but the word handgun does not appear in the title of this article. So let’s assume you are grabbing for something larger. So what would you prefer?

When you are in close quarters combat, you naturally begin to spray and pray. If you have the AR-15 or AK-47 variant, you can make a lot of noise and poke a lot of holes in your walls, possibly killing your family members in the next room, however, if you want to remove doubt at close quarters—use a shotgun.

5. Mossberg 500

A tactical, pump 12 gauge, such as the Mossberg 500, can take spraying and praying to a whole new level. You fire a couple shells down your hallway,  you are going to hit your target and probably more than once

Regular, long hunting shotguns are at a disadvantage in these conditions but if you have one, you would use it.  I would prefer to have a shorter, tactical version or even one with a pistol grip.  Kel-Tec also makes a bull pub shot gun that would be a perfect choice, especially since it can hold up to 15 rounds.  There is a reason why mossberg calls one of their shotguns “The Chainsaw”.  It will cut down just about anything in its way.

Buckshot increases your likelihood of a hit, but a slug delivers an exceptionally deadly blow at close quarters. Here are the two big differences.

A shot pattern does not guarantee incapacitation. Now if the intruder gets hit with shot that may not neccessarily take him down immediately, but you hit him with 00-buckshot I guarantee he’s going down.

You’d prefer him to be unable to make any retaliation.

Any head or torso shot with a slug or buckshot is going to blow a significant hole in him, and all the desire to reach you or your family will leave immediately.

 

My personal shotgun of choice is the Kel-tec KSG, but the Mossberg 500 in its many variants in 12 gauge, which also happens to be the shotgun of choice for the US Army.

So what is the best all around Survival Rifle?

So if I could only take one, what do I consider the best all-around survival rifle?  I would not choose a 10/22 although it is a great rifle. I do think there may be a better choice—or at least a marginally better choice.

I personally would have to choose AR-15 for my all around rifle.  Not the best, by far in many categories, but good enough to use in just about any situation.

Runner Up Best Survival Rifles

So how about some runner’s up? Here are some other best survival rifles to consider:

  • 7 – Remington 597
  • 8 – Winchester Model 70 (in .30-06, .308 Win, .300)
  • 9 – Kel-Tec SU16 in many of its variants.
  • 10 – Kel-Tec KSG (in 12 Gauge)
  • 11 – Sam Yang .50 Cal Air Rifle and just for all around use in major World ending SHTF situations.  It can be used as a shotgun, rifle, and shoot arrows.  You don’t need powder, and can easily cast your own bullet.

Written by Rich G, SHTFandGO LLC.  excerpts taken from other articles

Traditional Rifles vs. AR

AR vs. Bolt Rifle: What’s the Difference?
If you’re new to the sports of shooting and hunting, you’ve probably found yourself staring dumbfounded at the vast array of guns lining the walls of your local gun shop—wood-stocked long guns, carbon-fiber ARs and lever-action rifles that look straight out of a Western movie. Theoptions are endless.

If you’re new to the sports of shooting and hunting, you’ve probably found yourself staring dumbfounded at the vast array of guns lining the walls of your local gun shop—wood-stocked long guns, carbon-fiber ARs and lever-action rifles that look straight out of a Western movie. Theoptions are endless.

So, what’s the difference between these guns? It’s quite simple and, depending on your intended use, you may find one option better suited to your uses than the other. Here are the most important differences between the two most popular rifle styles: AR and bolt action.

All About the AR
An AR rifle, or “modern sporting rifle,” is not just for the military or law enforcement. In fact, over the past decade, ARs have become a very popular firearm choice for hunting and target shooting. A lot of false information has created confusion on just what an AR rifle actually is and does, so it’s important to understand the platform.

Traditional Rifles vs. ARs

Over the past decade, it has become common to see AR platform rifles in hunting camps. The Savage MSR 15 Recon is chambered in .223 Wylde and features a barrel with 5R rifling—a killer combo for match grade accuracy.

“AR” does not stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.” In fact, the “AR”, as in AR-15, stands for “ArmaLite rifle,” with the name being adopted from the company that first developed this style of rifle in the 1950s. In reality, “assault rifles” are fully automatic (imagine a machine gun), and automatic firearms have been heavily restricted to civilians since 1934.

ARs use what is called a “semiauto action,” meaning that every time the trigger is pulled, a bullet is launched from the barrel, the case is automatically ejected, and another cartridge is immediately fed from the magazine into the firing chamber. Before another bullet can be fired, however, the trigger must be pulled again, and so the process is repeated.

The AR is versatile and exceptionally accurate. ARs consist of two main components commonly referred to as “upper” and “lower” receivers. The upper receiver of an AR is comprised of the barrel, chamber and handguard. This can easily be swapped for other uppers to chamber your rifle to different calibers by simply popping two pins. Chamberings for the AR platform include .22, .223 (5.56x45mm), 6.8 SPC, .308, .450 Bushmaster, and more.

Traditional Rifles vs. ARs

The modularity of AR platform rifles enables shooter to quickly change uppers for different calibers depending on the species being hunted.

The upper receiver is where the operating system of the gun is located. ARs can consist of two different operating systems: gas impingement and gas piston. With a gas impingement system, gas is diverted from the barrel through a tube and back into the upper receiver to operate the action. With a gas-piston operating system, gas is funneled from the barrel to drive a piston that works like the action.

The lower receiver consists of the buttstock and grip. These also can be changed to fit your needs. Not happy with your short stock? Looking for a grip with more traction? No problem. Swap them for a Blackhawk Knoxx Replacement Adjustable Carbine Rifle Buttstock, a Blackhawk AR-15 Ergonomic Grip, or a host of other accessories.

Along with those easy changes you can make, the AR can easily be tailored to individual shooters. Almost all of the components of an AR can be swapped out. Replace the stock trigger, buy a different gas block, add a Blackhawk offset flashlight rail mount or a Picatinny rail to mount a Blackhawk SPR Optics Mount for a scope, or simply change the handguard to fit your liking. The options are endless.

Traditional Rifles vs. ARs

Collapsible buttstocks make it easier to maneuver through thick brush, and can quickly be extended to make that perfect shot.

Bolt Gun Basics
Unlike the AR, which uses gases and a lot of moving parts to operate, a bolt gun has a much simpler design.

The traditional bolt gun uses a bolt-action system to fire. Unlike semiauto actions, where the cartridge automatically ejects when fired and then a new round is fed into the chamber, bolt guns require you to manually open the bolt, which ejects the cartridge. You then push the bolt forward, which drives the new round from the magazine into the firing chamber. This process must be repeated each time before firing a new round. Because bolt guns have fewer moving mechanical parts and don’t require the use of gases to make the gun work, bolt guns are commonly believed to be more reliable than ARs.

Traditional Rifles vs. ARs

The classic beauty of a traditional bolt gun can be hard to beat. If a shooter is trying to decide between an AR or a traditional bolt gun – it all comes down to personal preference.

Unlike ARs, not as many components of a bolt gun can be swapped or added to the rifle. Commonly made with wood, laminate, and composite stocks, bolt-action rifles do allow some customization, including replaceable stocks, triggers, and scope mounts.

Additionally, bolt-action rifles can be chambered in dozens of different calibers. The 16/116 Savage Lightweight Hunter bolt-action rifle, for example, is available in .223 Rem., .243 Win., .270 Win., .308 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, and 7mm-08 Rem. Numerous other calibers are available for bolt-action rifles for use on big game that range in size from deer to elk including .30-06, .300 Win. Mag., and .338 Win. Mag., all the way down to small game such as squirrels or coyotes with rounds including .22 or .17 Hornet.

Which One is For You?
Between the modularity of the AR, which allows you to customize it to your preferences, and the reliability of a bolt-action rifle, you really can’t go wrong with either. I’ve hunted bears in the backcountry while carrying the Lightweight Hunter chambered in .270 and walked away with a beautiful black bear shot at 230 yards. My friend and fellow bear hunter, David Faubion, carried an AR on the same hunt, and he walked away with an old sow. Both guns performed as promised, and I came to one conclusion: You can’t go wrong by buying one of each.

Shared from gunsandammo.com

Hydrogen Peroxide Uses In Garden

How & Why Hydrogen Peroxide is So Useful

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) has an extra oxygen atom than Water (H2O), this extra oxygen atom breaks down and the molecule of water releases from this separately. It is this extra oxygen atom that makes the hydrogen peroxide so useful. The Hydrogen peroxide is used in cleaning, bleaching, sterilizing, as a disinfectant etc. but it can also be used in horticulture. In simple words, Hydrogen Peroxide acts as an oxygen supplement for plants (beneficial if used in low strength). It works by releasing oxygen and also aerates the soil.

1. Hydrogen Peroxide Uses Against Root Rot

Overwatering causes the shortage of Oxygen at the root zone. If you overwater the plant, the water fills the air spaces in soil and the plant’s roots suffocate due to the lack of air and they begin to die after 24 hours. To save such a plant from this problem, water it thoroughly with 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed in 1 quart of water. The extra oxygen in the hydrogen peroxide provides the roots their much-needed oxygen to survive. After this, don’t water the plant until top 1 or 2 inches of soil dries out well.

2. Using Hydrogen for Faster Seed Germination

You can use hydrogen peroxide to help seeds germinate more quickly. Hydrogen peroxide softens the coat of seeds and kills any pathogen present on seed coat thus increase the germination rate and help the seed germinate faster. Soak your seeds in a 3% hydrogen peroxide for 30 minutes. Rinse the seeds several times with water before planting and plant them as usual.

3. Hydrogen Peroxide for Mold and Mildew

Hydrogen peroxide has an oxidizing property that is fatal for mold and mildew. Mix a liter of water with 10 tablespoons of 3 to 6% hydrogen peroxide depending on the level of infection. Spray this solution on plants daily until the fungus disappears.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide as a Fertilizer

Use hydrogen peroxide to help strengthen the root system of your plants. Hydrogen peroxide has one extra oxygen molecule (than water) that helps plant’s roots to absorb nutrients from soil more effectively, you can use this formula occasionally to boost the growth– Mix about 1 teaspoon of 3% Hydrogen peroxide with 1 gallon of water.

5. To Keep Pests Away

The hydrogen peroxide can be used as a pesticide. Spraying the plant thoroughly with 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed in the equal amount of water kills the pests and their eggs. The hydrogen peroxide also kills the bacteria that develop on fruits and vegetables.

Tips For Floods

TYPES OF FLOODING

 

A flood is defined as an overflow of water that submerges land which is normally dry. In the United States, there are various causes for flooding, including:
Flash Floods: Flash floods usually develop shortly after a nearby heavy rain. I say nearby because it doesn’t have to be raining at your location for rising water to endanger you. These floods create a rapid rise of water, especially in low-lying areas like floodplains. Causes of flash flooding include heavy rain, ice jams, and levee or dam failures. This is especially common in the western United States where normally dry areas next to steep terrain might fill with rushing water.

River Flooding: River flooding can be caused by heavy rainfall, dam failures, rapid snowmelt and ice jams. Normally flow can become turbulent rapidly as in a flash flood. In other cases, water levels may rise slowly but steadily. Either way, the result threatens structures and populations along its course.

Storm Surges: Tropical (or even non-tropical) storm systems can bring heavy winds, but most damage occurs as a result of flooding due to the storm surge. Storm surge is the rise in water generated by the storm above normal tide levels. When the storm approaches the coast, high winds cause large waves that can inundate structures, damage foundations, and cause significant loss of life.

Burn Scars: The Western U.S. has had significant wildfire activity, most recently in California. After a fire, the bare ground can become so hardened that water can’t be absorbed into the ground. This is known as a “burn scar”. Burn scars are less able to absorb moisture, leading heavy rains to accumulate water wherever gravity takes it.

Ice Jams: Northern areas of the continental U.S. and Alaska may have flooding as a result of ice jams. When moving ice and debris are blocked by an obstruction, water is held back. This causes flooding upstream. When the obstruction is finally breached, flash flooding occurs downstream. Many ice jams occur at bends in a river.

Snowmelt: Snowmelt flooding is common in mountainous Northern U.S. states. Snow is, until temperatures rise above freezing, just stored water. When it gets warmer, the snowmelt acts as if it were rain and flooding can occur.

Barrier Failures: When a dam or levee breaks, it can be due to excessive rainfall, erosion, landslides, earthquakes, and many other natural causes. Some dams fail as a result of man-made issues, such as negligence, improper maintenance, and even sabotage. As a result, water level can overflow the barrier or water can seep through the ground.

 

FLOOD PREPAREDNESS
Most people have heard of hurricane or tornado watches and warnings, but the U.S. weather services also tries to warn the populace of flooding. A “flash flood watch” means that flash flooding is possible in the near future; a “flash flood warning” means that flooding is imminent in the area.
If you live in a low-lying area, especially near a dam or river, then you should heed warnings when they are given and be prepared to evacuate quickly. Rising flood waters could easily trap you in your home and you don’t want to have to perch on your roof waiting for help.

FLOOD SAFETY TIPS

To make it safely through a flood, consider the following recommendations:
Hit The Road Early
Make the decision to leave for higher ground before flooding occurs and roads are blocked. Having a NOAA weather radio will keep you up to date on the latest advisories. When the authorities tell you to leave, don’t hesitate to get out of Dodge.
Be Careful Walking Through Flood Waters
Drowning is the most common cause of death during a flood, especially a flash flood. Rapidly moving water can knock you off your feet even if less than a foot deep. Even calm flood waters are often murky and hide debris that can cause injuries if you walk through them.
Don’t Drive Through a Flooded Area
In a flood, many people drown in their cars as they stall out in moving water. Most vehicles can be carried away by water just two foot deep.Road and bridges could easily be washed out if you waited too long to leave the area. Plan before a flood occurs to see if there is a “high road” to safety.

Beware Of Downed Power Lines
Watch for downed power lines; electrical current is easily conducted through water. You don’t have to touch the downed line to be electrocuted, only step in the water nearby. There are numerous instances of electrocutions occurring as a result of rescuers jumping into the water to try to save victims of a shock.
Don’t Drink The Water
Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink: Flood water is not clean water. It is contaminated by debris and water treatment plants may even have been compromised by the disaster. Have a reliable way to purify water and a good supply of clean water stored away. 12-16 drops of household bleach will sterilize a gallon of water (a teaspoon for 5 gallons), but a filter might also be needed to eliminate debris. Wait 30 minutes after sterilization to drink.

Have Supplies Handy
Flood waters may not recede quickly. Besides water as mentioned above, have non-perishable food, bottled water, heat and light sources, batteries, tools, extra clothing, a medical kit, a cell phone, and a NOAA weather radio among your supplies.
Turn Off The Power

If you have reason to believe that water will get into your home, turn off the electricity. If you don’t and the water reaches the level of the electric outlets, you could easily get electrocuted. Some warning signs might be sparks or strange sounds like crackling, popping, or buzzing.

Beware of Intruders
Critters that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Snakes, raccoons, insects, and other refugees may decide your residence is now their territory. Human intruders may also be interested to see what valuables you left behind.
Watch Your Step
After a flood, watch where you step when you enter your home; there will, likely, be debris everywhere. The floors may also be covered in mud, causing a slip-and-fall hazard.
Check for Gas Leaks
Don’t use candles, lanterns, stoves, or lighters unless you are sure that the gas has been turned off and the area is well-ventilated.
Avoid Exhaust Fumes
Only use generators, camping stoves, or charcoal grills outside. Their fumes can be deadly.
Clean Out Saturated Items Completely

If cans of food got wet in the flood, their surfaces may be covered with mud or otherwise contaminated. Thoroughly wash food containers, utensils, and personal items before using.

Don’t use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have completely dried. You might have to take some apart to clean debris out of them.

Use Waterproof Containers for Important Stuff

Waterproof containers can protect food, personal items, documents, and more.  If your area is at risk for flooding, have the important stuff protected by storing them correctly.
Floods are just one of the many natural disasters that can endanger your family and turn your home into a ruin. With planning and some supplies, however, you’ll be able to keep your loved ones safe and healthy.

 

Free Topo Maps by National Geographics

National Geographic has built an easy to use web interface that allows anyone to quickly find any 7.5 minute topo in the continental U.S.A. for downloading and printing. Each topo has been pre-processed to print on a standard home, letter size printer. These are the same topos that were printed by USGS for decades on giant bus-sized presses but are now available in multi-page PDFs that can be printed just about anywhere. They are pre-packaged using the standard 7.5 minute, 1:24,000 base but with some twists:

 

  • Page 1 is an overview map showing the topo in context
  • Pages 2 through 5 are the standard USGS topo cut in quarters to fit on standard printers
  • Hillshading has been added to each page of the PDF to help visualize the topo

http://www.natgeomaps.com/trail-maps/pdf-quads

Booby Traps – A Historically Proven Component of Psychological Warfare

Booby traps are devices set up with the intent to surprise, harm, or even kill a unknowing victim. They are triggered by the presence or unwitting actions of another.

Booby traps have been used since ancient times. Cave drawings indicate even prehistoric humans used them as a means of capturing prey, such as in “pit falls” where a large hole is dug and spikes placed inside. The hole is then covered.

Historically speaking, booby traps do not win wars. They are, however, considered a key element in psychological warfare. Also known as PSYWAR, psychological warfare is by definition, something that is done to either deceive, manipulate or otherwise influence an opponent and to incite hopelessness, fear, despair and loss of morale. Used extensively in WWII and Vietnam, booby trap effects have caused many surviving soldiers long-term pain and trauma.They can also be an effective early warning system. However, they can also cause civilian casualties, be inadvertently set off by friendlies or neutral people within the vicinity, and sometimes even by animals or natural events. They are also dangerous to set up if using any explosive materials. Caution should be used. One way to hopefully limit unnecessary injury would be to secure the perimeter with non lethal alert devices. Hopefully once someone has realized they are approaching traps, they will turn around. If they continue, then chances are they are either hostile or being driven that direction by hostile forces.

Booby traps come in two main categories: anti tank, and anti personnel. We will start with the former.

Automatic road blocks work much in the same way as a regular trip wire except that they designed in ways that impede traffic and damage vehicles. The end of a strong wire is attached to a secure point on one side of the road. Perhaps looped around a large tree. On the other side it is attached to something to be pulled into the road. A common option is to attach an anchor to another tree and chop it almost to the point of falling. The cord must be taut and high enough that a vehicle will pull it in the correct direction and not run over it. The cut tree is pulled down into the road, damaging the vehicle and effectively creating a road block. This method was employed by the Japanese when fighting the Allied Forces in the Philippines. It can be effective as a standalone device to slow the opposition, or as onset of an ambush.

Another trip wire mechanism that can be adjusted to block a road, is a simple explosive charge set next to a makeshift retaining wall on a hill or cliff. Rocks, stones, branches and debris are piled behind the obstruction. It may be necessary to route the wire through small anchors to adjust for the angle of the hill. Once armed and triggered, a small avalanche plummets onto the road, injuring and blocking enemy forces.

Caltrops have been used since Medieval times, possibly earlier, as a way to impede incoming troops and damage cavalry and have since evolved into an effective way to combat automobiles. A metal worker can create them quite easily out of small hollow pipes that are bent and welded together. This option allows for more rapid air escape and therefore faster deflation and blowout of the tire; theoretically any metal strong enough and sharp enough to withstand the weight of the vehicle can be used as long as it is fashioned in such a way that one blade is always pointing up.

Even vehicles themselves have been used as booby traps. A charge can be detonated by opening the door, or turning on the ignition (which seems to be popular in the movies). Bombs can also be detonated by impact, where the cars themselves were used as roadblocks. If an armored vehicle attempts to simply pummel through and push the vehicles aside, they explode.

Now we get to the category where most preppers are focusing their efforts. Home invasion protection and anti personnel defensive booby traps.

The most common booby trap as far as prepping is concerned is probably the trip wire. Easy to set up with nothing more than a piece of string and a personal panic alarm. It is easily improvised and can detonate explosives, fire weapons, or activate spotlights for early detection.

Pressure plates can be simple DIY projects, or can be purchased prefabricated. Again, these can be improvised to either turn on lights, sound an air-horn, or detonate explosives. I personally would not attach explosives to these as they are usually placed quite close to your residence as a final warning someone has made it to your door. Some can be quite sensitive and can easily be activated by a dog or other fair-sized animal. If you are placing them further away from your home, or do not care about potential house fire, explosives could be used. One additional and interesting use for these is their ability to be an automatic door opener, if you want a secret entrance and hide it well.

Mobility Denial System (MDS) is a deterring slime that can come in handy (if you can get your hands on any) It is a last line of defense as it will create an impassable surface directly around your home for 6-12 hours. It was invented for the Marine Corps and police riot protection. It is not readily available, however if you were to put your mind to it, you could up with something along the same lines. You want to deter any hostile party, by any means necessary, before they ever get that close to you, and preferably either drive them back or keep them at bay until you can retaliate.

Spikes. They can be as simple as large nails in boards turned upwards around your yard in the tall grass. They could be placed over a hole so that when stepped on with any force, the person’s foot snaps the board, goes into the hole and the nails impale their ankles. In times of war they were often coated with toxic material or feces to promote infection. Some people attach them to stones or logs to create pendulum contraptions that are triggered by a trip wire. Personally I find this a foolish waste of time. A well-trained individual can evade such a device. It would probably take less time to dig small trenches, which might at least sprain some ankles, but to each their own. Spikes on boards can also be weighted and submerged into creek beds and ponds.

Razor wire and barbed wire is another option for underwater depending on how long it stays there. It can also be used similarly to trip wire in heavily vegetative areas where it can be concealed. I’d recommend a matte finish, camouflaged to blend in. In can be used along top fencing, around windows etc… Anywhere you would want to deter someone, perhaps diverting them into even more unfavorable habitat where you have a greater advantage.

Bullets can be set inside a small section of bamboo, atop a firing pin, and buried until just the tip is exposed. If stepped on with any amount of force the bullet explodes.

Hand Grenades. If you can acquire them, all you need is a tin can and a piece of string and duct time and you can secure any door. This is dangerous for the person loading them, but were widely used in WWII and Vietnam. Tie a string around the grenade under the handle. Depress the trigger handle and pull the pin. Quickly and carefully slide it into the tin can. Secure the can somewhere with tape or wedge it tightly. Attach the string to a door handle or use as a trip wire. When the door is open or trap is triggered, the grenade dislodges from the can and detonates.

Remember that booby traps are just one element in the line of defense. Their primary purpose is to slow down the enemy, instill fear, reduce moral, and possibly to injure, maim, or kill. The time these traps may buy you can be greatly varied. Use it wisely and remember, offense and defense are opposite sides of the same coin. You need both or you are broke.

Recognizing the extreme injustice of recent liability suits awarding home invaders large sums for getting injured while burglarizing a house, it could be considered foolish to construct booby traps unnecessarily, regardless of intention or the degree of danger. That being said, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t use them, or wish they had them to use, when put into a potentially deadly situation.

Stay safe, and happy prepping!

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How to Get Your Chicken to Lay More Eggs

Does it seem that your egg collection is decreased or that your hens aren’t laying as they once did? Or the yolks are pale and lackluster, lacking the nutrients they should provide? When the chickens are part of a plan for independent living or as a structured food supply, this can put a damper on things and thwart being able to rely on them as a nutritional resource. It can be a catastrophic event in a survival situation to have your chickens stop producing a crucial food source.

Eggs come from happy and healthy chickens, so a few tweaks here and there in your program can improve egg yields immensely. In an emergency situation it may be already too late to solve the problem, so here are the top tips and tried methods for getting your chickens to lay more eggs for a bountiful future.

Remember They Are Birds

The first thing to remember is that they are living creatures with their own hierarchy and social order, literally a “pecking order.” Although they have been domesticated ever since someone discovered how tasty they were, along with their ability to be good little producers of versatile daily nuggets high in protein, the most important thing to keep in mind is that chickens still retain their wild bird instincts.

These instincts include foraging, pretending to fly, the desire to roam and scratch for their food, and the mental need to hunt their food. If you do not have the luxury of a large area for roaming, you can still build a nice comfortable coop that suits their everyday needs while providing a good diet. Meeting these needs will be rewarded with the nice steady production of quality eggs.

Put the Egg First

Before we start adding things that go into the chicken, let’s talk about output, the egg. The egg is an amazing little structure. A porous shell offers external protection, this shell mainly consists of calcium carbonate with an invisible barrier made of protein. This protective protein barrier is called the cuticle and it acts as a shield to prevent contamination from bacteria. The nutrient dense yolk is suspended in a liquid composed of protein and water called the albumen that acts as a shock absorber and cushion.

A chicken egg provides 6-7 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat, fatty acids, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals. To achieve the highest nutritional output in an egg, it’s important a laying hen is provided a well-balanced diet that is nutrient rich with a diverse diet and fresh, clean water daily.

Top Reasons Chickens Stop Laying Eggs

If you have already had your chickens stop producing, don’t worry it’s fixable with just a few simple modifications!

To understand how to get your chickens to lay more eggs, we need a quick overview of the main reasons chickens stop laying eggs.

Temperature

Having chickens on the ground where it’s drafty or damp, or if they are housed in a poorly sealed coop will affect your egg production as chickens do not fare well in anything but a warm, dry environment.

Light

Chickens lay eggs as a means to reproduce. In winter when a chick has the odds against him for survival, the chicken’s body goes into shut down mode by way of its endocrine system. The endocrine system is signaled to slow production when the daylight hours get shorter.

Molt

About once a year chickens molt and that process can last 3-6 weeks. Having several ages can help negate any lags in production.

Protein needs

When the temperature turns cooler the chickens need more protein to burn as calories. If this higher calorie need goes unmet, the chicken’s body produces fewer eggs to save on expenditure.

Stress

Being prey to most animals makes a chicken nervous about anything it can’t control. Loud noises, excessive noise in its surroundings, or the scent of strange animals can almost guarantee the chicken will stop production.

The Best Ways to Get Your Chicken to Lay More Eggs

We have covered the basics in chicken husbandry and what things can affect egg production. So now for the good news! A productive flock is as important to hobbyists as well as the off the grid lifestylists. Some people keep chickens as pets of course, but for those that are primarily raising a flock for the nutrition packed eggs production can be increased with some simple finessing and system tweaks.

Here are some of the best ways to get your chicken to lay more eggs, or how to get more bang for your “cluck”!

Basic Nutrition

No matter how happy or stress free your hen is, you must provide the basic requirements in her feed in order to have your hens lay. Good quality feed supplemented with oyster shells (or leftover egg shells) need to be available for her to peck at. Clean water is a must and should be readily available 24 hours a day.

How to Feed a Balanced Diet to a Laying Hen

Supplements

Oyster shell is the most common supplement for chickens, especially laying hens as the calcium provided by the shell is needed to make a healthy and strong egg. Many, as we do, use a portion of their leftover egg shells to add to the oyster shells. Without calcium supplements, the laying hen will pull it from her bones and it is similar to osteoporosis.

Kiss my grits

Good food and quality supplements are only half the battle, you need grit and oyster shell to supply the best possible foods for your chickens so you can get the best quality eggs. When chickens roamed free they consumed small pieces of stone and gravel as they foraged naturally, this also can happen when they free-range. Chickens in an enclosure need that grit to be supplied to them as it acts as their “teeth” by grinding food in their gizzard. Without this grit, food cannot be broken down or absorbed properly.

No junk food

Much like with humans, low nutritional value foods that are high in carbs are a no-no for your chicken. Breads, white pasta, potatoes, dairy and white rice are not good for your laying hen. Of course, the comfort foods we love are dangerous for your feathered friends. No salty, sweet, or fried foods and especially no alcohol!

This is a list of foods that can be toxic for your flock:

  • No spinach
  • No asparagus
  • No citrus
  • No onions
  • No raw beans that have been dried
  • No apple seeds
  • No eggplant
  • No avocado

Health conscious chicken treats

There are many things you CAN feed your chicken to promote more eggs and give them a healthy boost.

  • Oatmeal
  • Cottage cheese
  • Pumpkin
  • Melons
  • Sweet corn
  • Ginger
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Cucumbers
  • All grain pancakes
  • Mealworms

Hot tip: spicy. I had many people tell me that adding some red or green peppers boosted vitamin C and the chickens loved them.

Shed Light on the Subject

A hen needs 12-15 hours of light a day to provide the best production numbers in eggs. Installing a light can help keep the production even during winter, or on cool nights. Lights infused with red can prevent cannibalism and keep the coop soothed and calm.Most chickens lay their eggs by 10 am, so after egg collection it’s time for your hens to go out and get some fresh air and light.

Build a Proper Coop with These Tips

There is no one specific design that is best for a chicken coop. But there are a few basics to consider when making a coop.

Personal space

Allow 2-3 square feet of space per laying hen and it is easier to build out later on if your flock increases in size.

Flooring

Dirt is not a deterrent to predators as they can easily dig under the edges. Wood can rot and house parasites. Concrete is expensive and can crack over time. The most current materials used for chicken coop flooring are vinyl over plywood. Plywood also can be easily replaced as needed.

Roosts

Each hen should have at least 8 inches of roost space.  The most common way is to use a 2×4’ with the wider side facing upwards for the roosting bar. This protects those delicate feet in winter from biting cold and frostbite.

Make nest boxes a priority

A good way to make egg collecting easy is to use nesting boxes. A nesting box also protects the egg and helps keep it clean. One rule of thumb is to have one nesting box for every 3-4 birds, and install them about 2 feet off the floor. A layer of soft litter like wood shavings or hay can provide cushion for the egg while absorbing droppings.

Coop ventilation

Year round air ventilation is a must for a healthy coop. A good measure of thumb is 1/5th of your wall space should be vented. We used hardware cloth to cover the vents to keep off the little varmints and creepy crawlies. Be sure to use washers and screws to secure it down and check it regularly for any rips or holes.

Keep a Clean Coop

No matter what system you employ, the main thing is to provide a nice place to live, avoid overcrowding your chickens, and keep them in a clean and dry environment. A regular schedule of laying fresh litter in their houses and removing droppings will help the hens from tracking feces and dirt into nesting boxes and the eggs within. Hens flourish in hygienic conditions and it is advisable to have a quarantine period for any new stock before they are introduced into the flock.

Disinfection

There is a lot of controversy on this. Many swear by bleach, but I do not like it around my animals or eating stock. After some trial and error, I use vinegar to disinfect my chicken coop and lots of elbow grease. I like to disinfect at least every few months by cleaning out everything and then giving it a good hosing. A liberal spray down with vinegar is next and then time drying in the sunlight, which also helps kill bacteria. I soak any bowls or feeding dishes in it, then leave them to dry in the sun also.

If you have your chickens on a dirt floor, you may want to use hay over barn lime to keep things dry and hay is dust free, unlike straw. It does need to be changed every week, but it can be added to the compost.

For smaller flocks, use a tarp. You can lay it out and then cover it in hay. It is easy clean up, as when cleaning time rolls around just fold that sucker up and drag it to the compost pile. Disinfect with vinegar before adding more hay and rebedding.

Rodent Control 101

Rodents can be devastating to a coop and any community they move too. Unfortunately chicken coops are a magnet for mice and rats. The main timeframe is the harvest in fall. Its then that rats will try to invade as their main food supply source is depleted. Colonies of mice will spring up by buildings and they tend to stay inside.

The biggest indicator that you have a problem is droppings. A rat has 40 droppings daily versus a mouse’s 80! This contaminates feed and exposes you, your livestock and your flock to diseases which can include salmonellosis, toxoplasmosis, cryptosporidiosis, and brucellosis.

Rodents are also responsible for more than 25% of all farm fires classified as “unknown origin.” These nocturnal dwellers can easily be underestimated, and can wreak havoc on your flock. They are predators and will seek out chicks. Rat infestations can consume hundreds of chicks a day.

The best steps to take to eliminate a rodent infestation around your chickens can be summed up in these 5 methods.

Tidy the coop

Deter the vermin by taking away all places they could set up shelter. Brush, woodpiles, or scrap piles should be well away from your coop.

Lock the feed up tight

Metal trash cans or drums are the best at deterring the little disease carriers, make sure the lid locks tight.

Build a wall or barrier

A mouse can squeeze into openings the size of your little finger, so sheet metal is the best bet to line your coop. Make sure your doors are in good repair with no entry points.

Trapping the pests

Physically removing the rats and mice is the best remedy. Place traps around the perimeter. Colony traps that hold many mice at once may be a good option.

Rodenticides

A last resort of course, and rodents can become immune, so switching it up is needed. Keep it away from other livestock and only in extreme circumstances do I use this. But if it’s between my flock and the mice, I do what I have to.

Thoughts on Confinement Vs. Free Range

Confinement and free-range options for keeping your flock have their advantages and disadvantages. Birds that can free-range will have more room and more opportunity to fulfill their need to be “free” to forage and hunt. But risks are abundant with threats by disease and predators. Being able to identify and find eggs quickly, as well eliminate problems in a timely manner is a plus to being in an enclosed environment.

Access to the Outdoors can help provide variety in their diet as well as plenty of time to take sunbathing and dust bathing seriously. But to me it’s not worth the risk to have them outside and unprotected 24 hours a day so we use a chicken tractor in summer and poultry netting in spring.

What Is a Chicken Tractor?

A chicken tractor is an attachable mobile coop with a trailer hitch that can be moved around so the chickens can have fresh grass and foraging area. It helps spread their fertilizer around the fields as well as keep bugs down as they have fun “exploring” their new surroundings. A happy, healthy hen is your most productive hen.

Exercise

Hens with more belly fat are impeded when it comes to producing eggs, so basic exercise is a must for physiological and mental health. Letting them scratch for their food gives them an activity that boosts base metabolic rates and keeps them warm and limber in winter. Throwing the girls leftover veggie table scraps or fresh cut grass and weeds straight from the garden will keep them happy little ladies.

Cabbage heads (the ends) and older lettuce pieces are fun to peck and I use the compost provided as they turn their food into the dirt and manure for my melon and survival gardens. Other ways to boost compost value would be to add corn cobs, carrot greens, melon rinds, kale, corn silks, or any other veggie leavin’s you may have. My girls love the after dinner treats and are lined up at the chicken yard’s gate waiting for them every evening!

Give Them Things to Do

Nothing is as fun to watch or as sweet as observing hens taking a dirt bath. Chickens like being clean and dirt baths are a way to do this and they promote healthy feathers by whisking away oils, sweat and parasites. If you do not offer a dirt bath, most flock owners come to find their chickens in the flower garden or in the crops.

A few sources claim wood ash is good for a bath or diatomaceous earth, but I believe if I need a mask to be around it then it will get into my flock’s lungs also. I much prefer building my own dirt bath with a simple container that’s 24 x24” and at least a foot deep, or dig a hole and fill it. I use sand and dirt. This type of bath promotes sweet smelling ladies that are lice free, and it’s chemical free so you can’t beat that.

Stress Reduction

Stress is one of the top reasons why chickens stop egg production. A big stressor is also the cold on the body, as well as parasites irritating your chickens. Irritants such as pets, children, and loud music can affect production also. Chickens need a quiet, safe area to relax and claim as their own.

When bringing in new chickens, keep in mind that is a big stressor and production may stop for a few days to weeks as they adjust to their new surroundings. This is normal and soon they will pick back up where they left off when the transition is over.

Do you need a rooster to get your chicken to lay more eggs?

A rooster adds commotion and not much value to your flock unless you plan on raising hatchlings. For egg production, a rooster can make things worse. Plus half of your hatchlings will be roosters so be prepared to find new homes or cull the male chicks.

Culling for Optimum Production

Many people do not like the thought of culling their flock. For optimum production taking out the older laying hens and replacing them with young pullets not only keeps a chicken rotation going, but will release the need for the care of the older hens into retirement.

It is much more humane to find a loving home if you are attached. In situations where every resource has to not only produce, but be a functional part of a homesteaders life, it is better to butcher the older hens than let feed than can go to younger ones in their prime laying years be wasted on them. Soup stocks and frozen meat can last quite a while.

Final Thoughts

Life with chickens is a rewarding experience in any homesteader or food self-sufficient lifestylists program as there are so many ways chickens can help in a garden and around the homestead.

Integrating a chicken flock can benefit a homestead with a constant supply of nutritional eggs, quality compost, and meat when needed. Starting a flock is inexpensive and with just a few tips and tricks you can have those chickens laying more eggs and start to stockpile your bounty. In the old days, every yard had a few chickens pecking around as the eggs were a means of survival. Now it is becoming more and more popular to raise your chickens as the nutritional value and taste of fresh eggs are so much better than anything you can buy in a store.

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Three Often Forgotten but Necessary Survival Essentials

With everything that has been going on in the world around us lately I’ve noticed the always popular trend of survival prepping surge to unparalleled heights. The need to hoard and to stock survival essentials and keep our families safe from danger and starvation is a very strong and an almost urgent need for most of us.

Even though we hope there is never a need for the prepping to be of actual use, it is important to at the very least have a few things handy for that “just in case” scenario that we all fear.

There are many articles already written on what the average family needs to be prepped and ready. However, I find most of those lists lacking three specific things that I believe are necessary for any long term survival situation.

Your Three Must Have Survival Essentials

Seeds:

If something were to happen and all the stores shelf’s were bare then we’d need to grow our own vegetable and fruits once again. Seeds are important because they insure that one will never have to go hungry. Might take some work but it’ll be worth it in the long run. Even more, seeds will become an important barter item. You could trade them for the items you lack or the items you want. Considering that you can find various seed vaults available for sale online, stockpiling seeds becomes an easy practice.

You could also harvest and store your own seeds, but that takes a little practice. It also requires a good knowledge of how long seeds can be stored and which are the proper conditions for storing them. Seeds are one of the survival essentials that should be at the top of your list. You should stockpile only what grows in your region because it’s unlikely that you will go to farm too far away from home.

Honey:

Long shelf life, honey lasts forever and once it has hardened (crystallized) all you have to do is reheat it to get it soft again. This is one of the survival essentials that are a must. You should understand that this food will even outlast you, therefore it is recommended to have it in every survival pantry.

Honey can be used as a secondary calorie source. It packs 64 calories per tablespoon which comes in handy in an emergency where calories are hard to come by.

Not only is it a significant calorie source. It’s nutritious for you too with many vitamins in it that your body needs to function properly like b6, A,C,D, thiamin, riboflavin, potassium, and calcium too.

Honey can be used as a topical antibiotic. Because of its high sugar content it keeps bacteria from growing while killing the rest. It can be warmed (not hot, just warm) and applied to wounds, burns or skin infections. Honey will become a valuable alternative healing method when there will be no doctors to help you.

Honey also calms coughs and has many other healing uses that people have been relying on it for generations.

Even more, honey can be used to preserve food and in some parts of Africa they use honey to preserve raw meat. I’ve once eaten smoked meat that was preserved in honey for two years and there was nothing wrong with it. Except that it tasted a little sweet, which is normal if you consider that the meat has been submerged in honey for two years.

Important:

Remember that even though honey is great for adults and older children it is not recommended that any child under one year be given honey. Smaller children don’t have the working digestive tracts that older children and adults have and can unfortunately get botulism from honey.

Vodka:

Taking into account its obvious use as comfort liqueur, Vodka is necessary to have in case of an emergency. If a bad case scenario happened, eventually you would start to run out of supplies. You would have to start trading and bartering with others. One thing that will be in short supply by then and wanted by many is vodka. You just might be able to trade it for something your family could use: batteries, seeds, food, medical supplies etc.

Vodka can be used as an antiseptic. Put some on a cloth and clean your wounds and cuts with it. It can also be used to disinfect items you will use on your body for various healing procedures. You can soak the instrument in vodka for about 10 minutes to have a sterile tool.

Vodka can be used for pain relief. If you get hurt and are in need of quick pain relief while awaiting the healing process to begin, a shot or two of vodka will help numb the pain. Back in the day people used it to alleviate mouth pain. Some people use it even today since it’s cheaper than medicine. Survival essentials like alcohol and other vice items are frowned upon by many survivalists. They consider bartering with addicted people a dangerous scenario. To be fair, it’s all about having the upper hand and being in control. Addicts will become desperate to procure their vices and you will tip the scale in your favor as long as you take precautionary measures.

Remember!

These three survival essentials alone won’t make you survival ready. I do believe that if added to your survival gear your family could have much more of a chance in the case of an emergency that requires families to fend for themselves.

Effective Family Survival

They say that every survival scenario defines a case of survival of the fittest. You might think you can make it, regardless of what the world throws at you, but what if you’re not alone? If you have loved ones depending on you, family survival becomes your main priority.

That being said, sometimes a group has better odds of surviving under the right leadership. Regardless if you prepare for or with your family, there are some principles you need to implement. Groups with great leaders can pretty much accomplish anything. Being a survival leader and the head of the family isn’t easy. You already struggled to build a family, now is the time to develop them into a survival group.

No matter how you look at things, being part of a dysfunctional team, can lead to disaster during an emergency situation. They may not all agree with your rules and plans for the future, but you can’t distance yourself from them. You should never see those close to you as expendables and you should always value them.

Just like you put a lot of effort into your prepping plans, human relationships need nurturing to survive. There is a natural tendency for families to get along since blood is thicker than water, but never take this for granted. As days turn into weeks and months, bad feelings can start to fester and frustration can pile up. Exposing your family members to an austerity scenario with no electricity, no water and no food can cause alienation.

To make family survival work, it takes an empathetic leader who can keep an eye on both the mission and his or her family.

Always show them love

Your family knows when you care about them and also when you don’t. Put your family first, regardless how busy you are. Be dedicated and loyal to them, even if it seems that you don’t have enough time for your prepping chores. Love in a family, loyalty and trust should never be taken for granted. Learn about their hobbies and preoccupations and show genuine interest in their lives. You shouldn’t assume that they will later understand and thank you for your effort. They might not stick around long enough to appreciate all you’re doing for them right now.

Keep a healthy and fit family

Becoming a couch potato and letting your kids spend hours on the computer or game console is a toxic habit. If your family is out of shape or ill, you will tire more quickly and lack the stamina to survive. Tired people have less patience and quickly lose focus of what they are supposed to do. Family survival is impossible without a good health and physical shape of all its members. Is hard to care about anything else if you are exhausted or suffering.

Keep everyone informed

Many people new to prepping have the tendency of keeping their kids in the dark. They are reluctant to share information about their prepping plans. It seems just too much for the kids or relatives to handle. As a family leader, you should learn how to talk to your kids about emergency preparedness. There is no safety net out in the real worlds and there are no prizes for trying when it comes to survival. When you’re confronted by relatives and friends, don’t argue and don’t impose your point of view. Briefly explain your course of action and the reasons behind your prepping plans. It they care about you, they will understand and respect your decision.

Set an example

I come from a family line of hard working people that lived life with modesty and dignity. In all my life, I have never heard the words “it’s not possible” or “it can’t be done”. The way you guide your family in life reflects in everything you do. You should always be an example for them. Work hard and avoid being viewed as lazy. My grandfather used to say that ambition, good attitude and kindness are infectious. If you want your kids to learn about the world, you need to show them what’s out there. Spend time with them in the nature and allow them to figure things out on their own.

Turn your family into a team

Set goals for your family members, inspire vision and establish responsibilities for each of them. Listen to their feedback and reward their patience when it comes to your prepping plans. Family survival is not possible if only one person struggles for all the others. If you want to maximize results, you need to make it a common effort. Even small children can accomplish big tasks by what it seems like playing for them.

Be truthful

Credibility is a fragile thing inside a divided family. Do not lie to your family, because sooner or later they will figure it out. If the situation is critical, there is no need to sugar coat it, unless some of them can’t cope with the reality. If they have the proper age and mindset, it’s better to lay your cards on the table. Don’t lose your temper when comforted with bad news. It will make people around you lose confidence and they will lie as a self-defense mechanism.

Take responsibility

Understand that you’re not superman and that nobody’s perfect. Don’t pretend to be more than you are and be accountable for your mistakes. Rather than covering something up and see how things develop. Make the corrections in time and apologize as needed.  Family survival requires you to be bold. Taking unnecessary risk means making mistakes. Not taking risks when situation requires it and playing it safe can have a diminishing return.

Be tolerant

Zero tolerance is required if someone undermines your authority when leading a survival group.  However, this is not a group of random people, they are your family! You should provide adequate support for all your family members and take time to explain your actions. The “do as I say” mentality can backfire. You need to keep everyone united and you can’t do that if you push them around.

Don’t forget to keep a good attitude

Things may seem grim, but remember that relaxed and funny people are a natural antidepressant. Even if you have no power, and the weather outside is turning bad, you can still keep a good attitude. Humor is essential for family survival, especially if you have young ones. It is an important trait to deal with stress and can significantly boost the mood of your family.

Communicate with and encourage your family members

I see a lot of parents criticize their children in public and they don’t realize how much harm they are causing. Praise in public and criticize in private is what my grandmother used to say. Tell your family members what you want them to accomplish and not how to do it. Keep instructions simple and concise and always ask for feedback. Trust the knowledge of your family members, but be ready to take charge when things get rough. After any crisis that affects your family you should discuss about the following:

  • What did we do wrong this time?
  • What did we do right?
  • How can we improve our preparations?

Family survival requires good leadership and involves much more than telling them what to do. Family survival is about being a better person for them. Encouraging them to learn new things and keeping them informed is what makes a good team. Leading your loved ones is the hardest job during a crisis scenario, but you should never give up on them.

Best Bow Hunting Tips

In order to be a great bow hunter, you’ll have to go through years of training and experience. It’s just like playing a musical instrument; at first, you don’t know what you’re doing, but with a lot of practice and determination, you’ll find yourself playing sonatas. It’s just the same with archery and bow hunting, but sometimes, you can’t improve by yourself. Thus, I’ve put together this article on bow hunting tips for all beginner hunters. Enjoy!

Weigh between speed and accuracy

Sometimes, you have to choose between the two. And as a beginner bow hunter, you’re bound to have trouble accomplishing a shot with both. Personally, I recommend practicing accuracy first. You’ll need to be more experienced with hitting a target dead on that hitting it at a fast rate.

On the other hand, speed is something that comes naturally (at least for me). I’d say speed will come when accuracy is improved. In other words, once you start hitting those bulls-eyes dead on, your speed is bound to improve as your confidence increases as well. Vice versa, speed will help your accuracy, as faster arrows bound to fly straight at the target.

For beginners, it’s important to master both. But not necessarily at the same time. When you’re out hunting, however, accuracy is more important, but speed weighs in a good amount, as well.

Pick a bow and stick with it

When it comes to archery and bow hunting, mastering your weapon is the best way towards experience. Choosing the right bow is a little bit of trial and error, so I don’t blame you for switching between bows. However, keep this in mind: the right bow will just feel right in your hands, and you’ll know when you have it. Under this, we consider weight of the bow, style, design, length, and these factors relative to your own dimensions and preferences.

If you do, however, find a bow that you can stick with, I highly suggest that you do so. Mastering your weapon will make your bow more of an invaluable friend than a hunting tool, and shooting an arrow will feel like a second instinct.

Generally, the more you master your bow and practice with it, I’d say that your accuracy and precision will improve as well. This is especially important if your target is to go bow hunting soon.

Work tirelessly on your form

The better the form, the higher the accuracy, speed, and precision of your shots. Find and practice the right form, with the proper stance, torso position, and grip relative to the target.

On this matter, I recommend asking an experienced bow hunter or bow hunting expert to assess your form. Ask for an evaluation afterward, which you can use to point out the things you need to do right/better. It also helps to watch Youtube videos wherein you can see bow hunters demonstrating a proper form.

Tip: practice in front of a mirror and compare your stance, torso position, and grip to a standard.

Practice in different settings

Actual bow hunting entails practice shooting in different situations and settings. For instance, you need to know how to keep your bow straight on a windy day, as much as you need to know how to shoot in low light.

It’s best if you practice when the weather is not that good, maybe a little windy. That way, you get to practice your aim in the wind. Another example is practicing near sunset, which will allow you to train with your bow sight in low light settings.

The trick here is to set yourself in a little diversity. After all, you never know what you’re going to expect in the wilderness.

Study, study, study

Reading goes a long way. When you’re a beginner bow hunter, it immensely helps if you read on your niche. Deer hunting tips, bow sight usage, accuracy and precision tips—all of these stored in your mind can help you apply them on the field and in practice.

Also, I emphasize the importance on reading about survival tips. These are the bits of information that you need stored at the back of your head at all times, especially in risky hunting situations and seasons.

Invest in high-quality equipment

When I was a beginner hunter, I wore all the wrong things and hated myself while freezing on the field. So, take it from me and choose the right equipment and clothing to take with you on your hunting trips.

My major recommendation is to splurge a bit—on your first pair of hunting boots or hunting knife, for example, because these are practical investments. When you choose the right products, you will get the quality that you paid for.

Choosing the right equipment also goes for hunting backpacks, kits, knives, clothes, and other gear that you take on a hunting trip. As a beginner, you tend to be not used to the wilderness and discomfort can come creeping up on you unexpectedly. So, choosing the right type of equipment can get you a long way.

Practice being stealthy

When you’re a bow hunter, you have the advantage of silence unlike gun users. When hunting skittish animals like deer, most especially, it helps a great deal if you know how to carry yourself, stalk, and shoot the target in a stealthy mode altogether.

For beginners, it may be a little hard controlling your footsteps and movement in order to make the noise as minimal as possible. It’s also a bit challenging to master the way on how to carry yourself and stalk your prey effectively. However, this skill can be learned just like any other.

The key is to practice in the field. You may not succeed on the first tries, but experience is the best teacher when it comes to stealth. Just make sure to take note of your mistakes and think of ways on how you can improve them afterward.

Under stealth, you also need to learn how to be unseen. This includes masking your scent against the sensitive noses of deer and bears, as well as wearing the right color of clothing. On this matter, you can read up on tips on how to do that and apply it the next time you go buck or bear hunting.

Conclusion:

We all start somewhere, and in bow hunting, it takes more than just a little bit of practice to master your weapon and shred in the field. This article is meant to open you up to the basics of bow hunting, which are useful if you want to learn fast in this area. To conclude, I give you this quick rundown of our tips to remember:

  • Practice both your accuracy and your speed, with accuracy as your priority. Speed will follow soon after
  • Stick with one weapon if it feels right, then master it
  • Work on your form tirelessly
  • Practice shooting in different situations and settings (e.g. low light, windy, high up on a tree stand)
  • Study on the field of bow hunting to find all the best tips and basic information you need to know
  • Invest in high-quality weapons and equipment
  • Acquire and practice the skill of stealth

9 Military Poncho Survival Shelter Confirguations: How To Set Up A Military Poncho Shelter

An essential item for ANY outdoor outing and certainly in every Survival Kit and Bug Out Bag is a good quality Poncho.  If you don’t have one and need one go to the NOT IF BUT WHEN STORE HERE. There is nothing more miserable (and dangerous) than getting soaked by rain. There are 100’s of different ponchos to choose from. I prefer a Military Style Poncho with grommeted corners and snap closure sides. These are typically constructed of a nice quality rip-stop nylon material that not only makes them water proof but very durable.

I like for items in my pack to be multi-use items – meaning they can be used for more than 1 purpose. My Poncho is no exception.  Besides protecting me from rain, I can also use my Poncho as a Ground Tarp to act as a moisture barrier.  I can also use it as a tarp to protect my gear or to keep a wood pile dry.  It can also be used as a make-shift shelter, which is the subject of this post.  I’ve slept in a make-shift poncho shelter many times and if set up properly it will keep you as dry and comfortable as any tent on the market.

Below I have detailed 9 Different Military Poncho Set-Ups that can be used for multiple scenarios.  I’ve listed when each one works best and when it doesn’t.  I’ve listed the supplies needed for each one and also the knots I use to set them up.  Hopefully you find this useful.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Military Poncho Shelter # 1:  Basic Lean-To (HORIZONTAL)

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 3 Stakes
  • Uses: Sleeping, Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed
  • Ideal Environment: No to Moderate Wind, No to Moderate Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 2:  Basic Lean-To (VERTICAL)

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 2 Stakes
  • Uses: Sleeping, Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed
  • Ideal Environment:  Low Wind, No Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 3: Ridge Line Lean-To

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 5 Stakes
  • Uses: Sleeping, Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed
  • Ideal Environment: No to Heavy Wind, No to Heavy Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 4:  Flat Roof Lean-To

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 3 Stakes, Center Pole (optional)
  • Uses: Sleeping, Sun-Shed
  • Ideal Environment: No to Moderate Wind, No Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 5:  Ghost Man

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 4 Stakes, Center Pole
  • Uses: Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed, Hunting Blind
  • Ideal Environment: No to Moderate Wind, No to Moderate Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES (small)
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 6:  Hood Hoist

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 4 Stakes,  2 Poles (Optional)
  • Uses: Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed, Hunting Blind, Sleeping (When set-up low and long)
  • Ideal Environment: No to Moderate Wind, No to Moderate Rain, High Wind & High Rain (Low & Long)
  • Fire Friendly: YES (small – when set-up high), NO when set up low
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 7:  Poncho Tent

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, 4 Stakes
  • Uses: Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed, Sleeping
  • Ideal Environment: No to High Wind, No to High Rain, Works well in COLD temps
  • Fire Friendly: YES (small out front)
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Military Poncho Shelter # 8 & 9: Connecting 2 Ponchos By Snapping Them Together – using 1 as a ground tarp

  • Supplies Needed: Paracord, Stakes
  • Uses: Rain-Shed, Sun-Shed,Sleeping
  • Ideal Environment: No to High Wind, No to High Rain
  • Fire Friendly: YES
  • Knots Used: Double Half Hitch, Siberian Hitch, Quick Release Taught Line Hitch

Below is a Basic Lean-To Set-Up that I use quite often in fair weather.  I use a tarp to keep ground moisture at bay and a wool blanket for warmth.  The Poncho Shelter acts as an excellent heat shield to deflect heat right on the sleeping area from a fire out front .

Below is a 10th Poncho Shelter Option I call the DIAGONAL.  It involved tying off one corner to a tree and staking the opposite corner to the ground.  The 2 remaining corners can either be staked or guy-lined out for added room.  This is a great shelter set as well.

If you are using any of these shelters and are expecting rain you will want to tie a knot with paracord around the hood to prevent water from leaking inside.

Are You Mentally Prepared?

Do you want the real secret to surviving a disaster? You can’t keep it in your bug out bag. It’s not something you stash away at your home.

Here’s a hint: it’s all in your head.

The mind is a very powerful tool and having the right frame of mind to handle the stress of a disaster is a key component to surviving the event.

Unfortunately, mental preparation is usually pushed far back on the list of priorities.  But without mental preparedness, many succumb to a traumatic event, due to distress, shock, indecision, panic or just giving up because the situation is too difficult.  When it comes to survival techniques, there are many who feel confident with their knowledge and skills, but without the without a determined state of mind, panic will set in and mistakes will be made.

The Mental Game

When fear strikes, it causes stress and anxiety, which can lead to poor decision-making, paralysis, and hopelessness. Mental preparation creates resilience and keeps a person moving on. Maintaining a positive, hopeful attitude in the wake of a disaster can literally keep a person alive; giving them the will to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  When a person begins to doubt they will see tomorrow, they need to cling to hope and optimism. On the other hand, there are far too many possible scenarios that can present themselves to us in the aftermath of any national or global disaster for us to assume we will be able to deal simply and easily with the choices we have to make. Maintaining our normal levels of honesty, integrity and decency will not always be possible and acknowledging this is critical if we are to make it out the other side.

Maintaining the right frame of mind can keep you head in the game.  For many, this can help them to survive a disaster.  For others, they will need to use other methods.

  • Maintain the will to live, no matter what
  • Adapt to the situation and use ingenuity to overcome challenges
  • Be proactive and find solutions
  • Be willing to move on to the next solution if the first one doesn’t work
  • Have a goal ( seeing loved ones again, revenge )
  • Find the positives – it could always be worse
  • Refuse to give in to negative core beliefs ( not smart enough, not good enough, unlovable, defective, powerless, not safe, etc. )

    Conquering Fear

If you’re caught in a situation in which you feel powerless, there are two scenarios that could play out: 1.) You can imagine yourself as a hero, figuring a way out, or 2.) You can imagine yourself as a victim, suffering and waiting for rescue. Which would you choose? (The answer is that you are going to figure a way out and survive!) Remember, it’s all in your attitude!

When playing stories out in your head, your mind does not know if the story is real or not real, it just plays the story out as it unfolds.  If you imagine yourself being decisive, controlling your fears, and behaving rationally, then the mind will only know to act this way in the future.  If you imagine yourself hiding, terrified and meek, then you will train your mind to act in this manner.

Fear can break a person’s resolve, causing indecision. Failing to anticipate the stresses that you may be under can cause panic, indecision, and possibly death.

Focus on What Can Be Controlled

Focusing on things way beyond your control allows negative core beliefs to come into the mind.  Finding ways to stay busy and focused on the task at hand can help you return to the right frame of mind.

For example, if you found yourself alone in the wilderness and began to feel helpless, you might regain some confidence by physically pulling all of the items out of your 72 hour bag to inventory what’s there.  During this process, you would be able to create a decisive plan with these survival items.  The survival plan is the goal, and it’s the seed of hope that will get you out of danger and on the journey back to your family.

Reactions to a Crisis

People have many different reactions to the disruption caused by a disaster.

When the unexpected occurs, it can create trauma and distress.  Some go into shock, and simply shut down. Others are unable to adapt to the scenario and do not know how to interact with their current environment.

While it’s important to be functional, remember that these emotions are present for a very important reason: to keep the person alive.  Use these feelings to your advantage.

Using fear to our advantage

Stress, fear and anxiety are all considered to be negative and destructive emotions.  However, they can be channeled to your advantage.

For example, fear could make a person more alert. It can motivate a person to perform at their very highest levels.  Strong emotions will not only help a person take advantage of strengths, but will also help to overcome weaknesses.

Using these emotions as an advantage requires great concentration and control. While they can be used, they can also take over and cause extreme distress or paralyzing fear. In a crisis scenario, you must confront and manage these emotions head on in order to use the momentum they provide instead of going into panic mode.

Use emotion to motivate yourself

Focus on what is important in your life. Cling to that thought with all your might. This will help keep your spirits high and motivate you to find a way out of danger.

A disaster can be a cruel and unforgiving situation, particularly if you are facing it on your own.  Depression and loneliness can set in, and hope can be lost.  The focus can shift from surviving and getting out alive, to being convinced there is no way out.

There are always a multitude of solutions that can be found. There is always a way out.

Sit and Think is Your First Preparedness Task

Cover the basic needs first. What good is 12,000 rounds of ammo, two battle rifles, BDUs, one flashlight, and one case of MREs after the first week?

You must have a full plan to survive. Providing for just one year takes some serious dedication to reach that level. A couple of decks of cards, pens, papers, small note books, the list can go on and on and on. You have to be well rounded.

Can you skin a buck, run a trapline, drop a tree with a chainsaw, plant a garden, protect your garden, preserve your food? Do you have dogs? Do you have enough stored food for them?

How about pest control, mice traps, squirrels, rabbits, coons, ground hogs, can sure tear up a garden do you have traps for them? Think it through: Chipmunks, gophers, garden pest, and bug control. Mosquito netting is the best thing you can buy if you plan on being outdoors.

Sit down and try to put a list together for one year of supplies. You know just the basics like where are you going to get water every day. How are you going to cook? How do you heat in the winter? Have you ever tried to chop a year’s supply of wood?

Do you have children? What kind of medicine will you need for them in 1 year? What kind of non power games do you have for them to do? Does you wife sew or crochet? Do you have some supplies like that put away. A knitted wool hat or mittens sure would be nice if you didn’t have them when you left. How about washing clothes?

You did put away enough toilet paper for a year, right? You also protected this toilet paper with traps or poison so the mice and chipmunks didn’t chew it all, up right? How about feminine products for a year.

What about yeast infections? I know it’s not the most pleasant thing to talk about but a must if you are seriously planning to survive. I talked to an old timer once that grew up in the Depression and I asked him what did you use for toilet paper his words “Last year Sears and Roebuck catalog, oh and by the way I sold all my furs to them too.” What would be a good catalog today? How about some thick old city telephone books, might be a good choice to store away for back up toilet paper.

These are some thing you must consider. Walk your land, think about every tree you have, how much open space you have, how much water, wildlife, and shelter you have. A plan cannot be made until one knows what he needs!

Situational Awareness

I have spent a fair amount of time over the past several years trying to define and refine my understanding of the term “Situational Awareness.”

Most of the written material deals with very technical definitions, that for me hold little real world application. As I tried to make them fit my own experience with awareness, I realized that the academic approach was impractical.

So here’s how I defined “situational awareness.” It is: “paying attention to what is going on around you.” How’s that for practical? It’s more than that, but the basic definition is the ability to scan the environment and sense danger, challenges and opportunities, while maintaining the ability to conduct normal activities. In other words, to pay attention to your surroundings while not appearing to be paying attention.

Understanding the Baseline

Awareness is a choice. One has to choose to pay attention. But once that choice is made, the part of the brain responsible for monitoring the senses, known as the Reticular Activating System (RAS) takes over. It switches filters on and off that will fulfill your subconscious desire to pay attention. By simply telling yourself to pay attention to certain things, the RAS will scan for and acknowledge those things when it encounters them.

I have found three main obstacles to developing awareness. To understand the obstacles with awareness, lets define the most basic tenant of awareness: BASELINE. The concept of baseline states that our environment has a baseline, a homeostatic state of what things look like, sound like and feel like when nothing much is going on.

In the woods, this is reflective of the noise and activity level of the area when nothing much is happening. The normal state. For example, in the late afternoon, things are normally pretty quiet. The baseline is pretty flat. As we move into evening, the baseline changes a bit. Night feeding animals are coming out, day feeders are going in.

The increase in noise and activity is still the norm. It is louder and yet still within the realm of normal. Suddenly a predator appears. All the prey animals react. Alarm calls go out and the noise level suddenly spikes. This is referred to as a concentric ring of disturbance because it radiates out from the source.

In the city, each neighborhood has its own baseline. In one area, people move at a certain pace, talk at a certain volume, stand at a certain socially acceptable distance from one another, gesture in a certain way. This combination of noise and activity constitutes that area’s baseline. Depending on cultural or ethnic norms, it will be different in various neighborhoods.

Being able to develop awareness is dependent upon first knowing the baseline for the area you are in and recognizing any variations to the baseline. These changes in baseline are learned from observation. One must know the baseline. One must recognize disturbances to the baseline and one must recognize if those disturbances represent a specific threat or opportunity.

This requires knowledge of the environment, knowledge of terrain. It requires that one recognizes predator behavior. It requires one to see well beyond normal sight. For example, an aware person will notice things others may miss: a youth in a hoodie across the street whose movements mimic yours. Or a dumpster set in such a way that requires you to pass close to it. It can be threats or potential threats. You must constantly monitor and assess. Over time, this becomes almost a background activity, requiring little conscious thought.

The key to great situational awareness is the ability to monitor the baseline and recognize changes.

Three Obstacles in Situational Awareness

1. Not Monitoring the Baseline. If you are not monitoring the baseline, you will not recognize the presence of predators that cause a disturbance. Other events can cause concentric rings as well. Any unusual occurrence from a car accident to a street fight can create a concentric ring. One of the keys to personal security is learning to look for and recognize these disturbances. Some disturbances are dangerous, some are just entertaining.

2. Normalcy Bias. Even though we may sense a concentric ring that could be alerting us of danger, many times we will ignore the alert due to the desire for it NOT to be a danger. We want things to be OK, so we don’t accept that the stimulus we’re receiving represents a threat. We have a bias towards the status quo. Nothing has ever happened when I do this, so nothing is likely to happen.

3. The third interrupter of awareness is what we define as a Focus Lock. This is some form of distraction that is so engaging, that it focuses all of our awareness on one thing and by default, blocks all the other stimulus in our environment. This is when someone is texting and walks into a fountain. The smartphone is the single most effective focus lock ever invented. It robs us of our awareness in times and places where it’s needed most.

Three Effective Techniques to Stay Aware

1. Monitor the Baseline. At first, this will require conscious effort. But after a while, I find that I can monitor the baseline subconsciously.

2. Fight Normalcy Bias. This requires you to be paranoid for a while as you develop your ability. Look at every disturbance to the baseline as a potential threat. This will allow you to stop ignoring or discounting concentric rings and begin making assessments of the actual risk. But as you learn, people will think you are jumpy or paranoid. That is OK. It’s a skill that will save your life.

3. Avoid using the obvious focus locks in transition areas. It is ok to text while you are sitting at your desk or laying in bed. But it’s NOT ok to text as you walk from your office to the parking garage.

Any time you’re drawn to a concentric ring event, do a quick assessment of that ring, then stop looking at it (the event) and scan the rest of your environment to see what you’re missing.

Developing awareness is a skill. At first it will seem very awkward and self-conscious, but with practice, it will become seamless and subconscious. You will start to pick up on more and more subtle rings of disturbance and more complex stimuli. Eventually, people may think you are psychic as they notice how you seem to sense events before they unfold.

Saving Seeds will Save and Make You Money

Having a garden is great, whether you are having plants that bear flowers or the ones the cultivate fruits. Have you ever wonder, as you water tomatoes, how good it is if you can multiply them more and make a profit out of it? Well, guess what, saving seeds can actually do that for you.

But wait, there’s more! If you save your seeds, you do not only increase your chances of making more money, it can also help you save! If you know how to do the process correctly, you will no longer need to shell out money to purchase seeds for the next season.

That is why I decided to create this piece of writing because it is also dedicated to other gardeners, even if they are not after selling their crops.

Let’s cut the long wait and start discussing how you can make the most out of the seeds from your garden (or kitchen, if you are planning to start growing one).​

This article will

  • Tell you the difference between annual, biennial and perennial plants
  • Discuss what pollination is
  • Inform you about the importance of saving seeds
  • Teach you about the lifespan of a seed
  • Give you the materials you will need when you are planning to save seeds
  • Explain the process of saving your seeds: harvest, clean, and store
  • Share with you expert tips and tricks
  • Let you know the difference between hybrids and pure breeds
  • Answer frequently asked questions

#1. All about seeds

What are seeds?​

What are seed

Annual, Biennial and Perennial

Prior to discussing seeds themselves, let us be aware of the different kinds of plants. There are three kinds of them and let me show the difference one by one.

There are plants that produce seeds and develop them fully within 12 months; they are called annual plants. They complete their cycle within 1 year. Coin the term with annual which means year and you will remind yourself about this easily.

Others wait until the next year before flowering. For example, you have to expect your carrot or beet to flower and mature seeds next year even if you harvested them this summer. These types of plants are referred to as biennial plants. “Two years” will be your keyword with this type of plant.

These biennial plants are strong enough to survive cold seasons; you just have to help them. Your role, however, may vary from one location to the other. In some areas, layering leaves or hay on top of the soil is enough, on the other hand, some plants needed to be transferred to a warmer ground and you have to return them to their places when spring comes.

There is a type of plant which can bear and mature seeds continuously every year, the perennials. You might notice them hibernating during winter but they will surely grow back from the same root in the spring.

Pollination

Just like humans, plants can come from a pure ethnic group or they could carry a mix of different races. Plants can pollinate in three ways: from two types of plants, through the help of wind or insects, or by themselves.

If the plant reproduces from the first two processes, it is called cross-pollination. On the other hand, there are plants that have both male and female parts. In return, they would be able to successfully pollinate within. This is what we call self-pollination.

Plants which can self-pollinate can remain pure even without isolating them from other species but if you want to be sure, feel free to do so.

Examples of self-pollinating plants would be beans, lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes. Beets, broccoli, carrots, corn, cucumbers, leeks, onions, pumpkins, quinoa, and spinach are the examples of cross-pollinating plants.

Importance of saving seeds

Some of the people I know who started saving seeds did it for one reason: they wanted to save money. Although it is not much, since tomato seeds would cost as low as $2, they would need to spend more for the specific type they wanted. On top of that, they would even have to travel far and exert effort to find it.

Did you know that decades ago, farmers and gardeners do not really purchase seeds from the market? They simply save seeds and produce a good number of vegetable varieties from it. Every gardener knows how to do it before. And every one of them can successfully come up with a produce that is acclimatized to the type of land and kind of weather in their area.​

The rise of technology and modern agricultural processes may have made everything easier; conversely, they have reduced crop diversity drastically. It is not surprising to hear older people looking for fruits or vegetables with a specific description and even the biggest supermarket in town cannot provide it.

Since we are only left with few kinds of vegetables nationwide, the seeds that we can buy from the market have the tendency to be unsuitable to the kind of land in our locality. It is possible also that it could not survive our climate, and worse, it becomes susceptible to diseases and pests – things the farmers from the previous generation do not really consider a problem.

Saving seeds do not only save money, it also saves effort and time. When you have saved seeds, they are already prepared for development. This means all you have to do is to transfer your seed heads to one bed and rotate as needed.

Extinction is another concern for most gardeners that is why seed saving is highly encouraged. The crops we used to enjoy with our grandparents are starting to become wiped out. The culture that is attached to these kinds of flowers or fruits will be affected sooner or later. We may be able to create that traditional dish we have been serving for decades, but the taste will already be altered.

The problem with extinction is that it is not only the classification we should be worried about. Without people who save seeds of certain plants, our grandchildren might not be able to enjoy their presence anymore. Ever imagined them asking “What is an eggplant granny?”? How hard could it possibly be if they do not even know what a ‘plant’ is?

Without seeds, we will be having problems with food security too. With seeds, we no longer have to eat genetically modified produces. These types are often reported to be causing obesity and allergic reactions and are even sometimes classified as carcinogenic products. Grow your plants at home and you free yourselves and your families from crops that are exposed to chemicals. For more ideas, visit our friend at Be Self Sufficient.

If you are still not convinced about the importance of saving seeds, try watching the movie Lorax and see how the future generation wished to see a living tree and how they tried to guard one seed with their life.

#2. Saving Seeds 101

Beginners Guide

If you are already growing fruits and flowers, seeds then can be found all over your garden!

First-timers can start with self-pollinating plants such as beans peas, peppers and tomatoes. I will be guiding you how to identify healthy seeds later on.

For gardeners with advanced skills on seed saving, you can now try other crops such as cucumbers, gourds, melons, and pumpkins. You have to be aware however that there is a high chance that the products may not have the exact characteristics from the parent plants.​

Lifespan of a Seed

The survival of seeds differs from one species to another. Some seeds are naturally long-living and others are not.

The secret for their longevity depends on how carefully you followed the saving process. If the seeds are properly stored, they can stay ‘plant-able’ for three to four years. It is, however, best to plant and sow them according to their cycle.

Some farmers prefer older seeds for selected plants as they believe that they will produce more fruit by that time.

Things that can spoil your saved seeds:

  • Moisture
  • Heat
  • Light

Coarse Approximations

Parsnips can live up to 2 years. Seeds that can live up to 3 years include beetroot, chard and leaf beet, carrots, onions, leeks, spring, and parsley. Courgettes and squashes are viable for 4 years. Beans, lettuces, peas, peppers, and aubergines can last for 5 years. You can save tomato seeds until they’re 8 years old and cucumbers and melons until they’re 10.

What are the things you need to prepare when you plan to save seeds?

Labeling materials will be needed such as markers and optional stickers. This will be used when you warn yourself and others not to pick a particular fruit on your plant or tree. Another case in which you will need this is when you store multiple kinds of seeds. Labeling will help you identify them easier.

Harvesting materials would include pruners to cut off the stem of the fruit from the plant, a knife for cutting the fruit in half to expose the seeds, and lastly, spoon to scoop out the seeds.​

Cleaning materials will be needed after you harvest your seeds. Depending on your practice, culture, and the type of fruit, the resources may vary. The universal thing you will need is, of course, water.​

Others make use of metal sieve to separate the seed from the flesh. Supplementary practices might need glass jar and spoon, wherein they would put the seeds in water, stir it several times to separate it from other fruit parts. I recommend the latter technique for soft and tiny seeds.​

Storing materials are crucial in saving seeds. To separate multiple kinds of seeds, you may use a paper envelope or packets and Ziploc plastics. You have to prepare air-tight containers as well to prevent moisture from accumulating on your samples.​

Selecting and Harvesting Healthy Seeds

Hybrids are not advisable for beginners, instead, go for open-pollinated varieties or the ‘heirloom’ types. These are the ones that have been passed down from generations to generations.

The secret in producing the best fruits lies on the parent seed. Select only the best tasting ones to save.

For runner bean seeds, the healthy ripe ones can be expected from the bottom of the plant. Just like tomatoes, we have to leave them so that they can mature fully. Wait until you see swelling in its pods, and as it changes its color to yellow then brown.

For lettuces, seed heads must be dried for two to three weeks after flowering. The tricky part in harvesting lettuce seeds is that they don’t mature all at once, therefore, you cannot get many seeds in a single harvest. They will be ready when you see half the flowers have gone to seed.

For peppers, wait until they turn red and become wrinkled.

For tomatoes, you can acquire the seeds from the moment they get ripe. However, you might want to leave it on the plant until it gets overly ripe. They will appear to be wrinkled, dark red, and extra juicy. The aim here is to let the seed mature as much as possible.​

Cleaning and Processing​

When processing bean seeds, you can open the pods by hand. If you have a lot of seeds, you can whirl them. If you have huge chaffs, use a fork to separate. The remaining particles should be sorted through.

To prepare your lettuce for cleaning, shake off seeds every day from flowering heads one at a time. You can remove the remaining seeds through manual rubbing. Sift the seeds and chaffs using screens.

Peppers can be processed in two different ways. If you just have a small amount of pepper seeds, it is advisable for you to use the dry method. Remove the lowermost part of the fruit; the seeds in the central cone should be stripped carefully afterwards.

Large amounts of peppers need to be processed during the wet method. Cut off the peppers, this time, on the topmost part. Using a blender put water and add the peppers. Blend slowly until the seeds would sink on the bottom part.​

Slice tomatoes lengthwise and gradually squeeze to extract the middle cavity. This would be the seeds and the surrounding jelly. Place the extract in a glass jar, pour a small amount of water and let it sit for three days.

Ensure that you place the container in a warm area, and you stir it once every 24 hours. After a few days, the water will contain a fungus that eats the jelly components of the mixture. Because of this, germination is then prevented. Another benefit of the presence of the fungus is that it creates anti-bacterial substances that can combat diseases as manifested by bacterial cankers and specks. Let it sit.

Pour warm water into the container after three days. This time, the contents will settle down. Once it fully settles, pour the water out. Repeat until the seeds are rinsed fully.

Aside from the seeds of tomatoes, the flesh can be saved as well if this is properly done.​

Cleaning Techniques

  • BLENDING
  • HAND CLEANING
  • TARPING
  • THRESHING

This was exemplified in our discussion with tomato preparation. Blend water with fruit and the debris and bad seeds will float as the viable seeds will settle at the bottom. Pour the contents leaving the seeds below. Rinse several times until the water being poured off is completely clean.

Storing Seeds

There are different ways on how to store a seed. You have to be primarily concerned about avoiding the seeds to get moist or else they can spoil easily. Check the material of your container and the construction of your lid and seal to be sure.​

The materials that are highly advisable would be glass and tri-laminate foil bag. The transparency of the glasses makes it a perfect choice as it will allow you to observe the seeds easily. However, since light can also damage your seeds, getting colored glasses are wise. Plastic containers can also be transparent; my concern is that the seeds can be exposed to the chemicals of the plastic, eventually affecting the quality of the seeds nonetheless.​

For long term storage, foils are the best choice. Ensure that the foil is tightly sealed. Closely monitor the temperature. A temperature heat sealer that has a jagged sealing bar is also desirable.

For seeds with sharp edges, placing them in a paper envelope might help. Alternatively, you may use vacuum sealed bags before placing them in glass containers.

Make sure you do not forget to put labels on them.

Write down the name, their species, and the date you collected them.

To help you choose the perfect container you might want to read: Selecting containers for long-term storage.Maintain a temperature between 32° and 41°F.You might want to keep your seeds in the fridge if you have extra space.Aside from the temperature, ensure that the seeds will never get in contact with moisture. You may use silica gels or freshly opened powdered milk as desiccants.​

Maintain a temperature between 32° and 41°F.You might want to keep your seeds in the fridge if you have extra space.

Aside from the temperature, ensure that the seeds will never get in contact with moisture. You may use silica gels or freshly opened powdered milk as desiccants.​

#3. Saving Seeds: Expert Tips and Tricks

Planning

  • Get organized. Planning properly will help you save time, effort and money. Create a habit of recording so that you can identify the seeds you’ve saved, when you are supposed to sow it and its expiration date. It is also going to be helpful if you note down your observations when you get your produce from a particular seed. This will help you identify what needs to be adjusted or continued.
  • Once you are able to identify the fruit which you think has the highest quality of the batch, you have to label it. It is very important for you to label your target fruits as this will prevent accidental picking of the fruits by anyone.
  • If you wish to produce a pure-breed plant, save seeds from a number of individual plants; about 1 seed per plant is good.
  • Saving seeds from multiple harvests will maintain genetic diversity on your seed sample.
  • If you wish a particular characteristic (example: size, shape or color), get the seeds from the plant that has that a specific trait.
  • Want to know when the perfect time to harvest? When the fruits are starting to fall from the tree or plant, that’s your cue! Oh, I forgot, if there are no fruits, check the pods. You may start harvesting when the seeds rattle.

Saving Seeds

  • Problems with humidity on your container? Put some rice grains inside! It will absorb moisture. (You probably heard about putting your wet gadgets in rice box, or when you see rice grains in restaurant’s salt shaker, they all share the same rationale.)
  • To know the viability of seeds, get some of your samples, dampen it using a paper towel and place it loosely in a plastic bag. Allow it to sit for a few days ensuring that it is properly aerated and warmed. If there is a positive germination, then they are good to go.
  • When preparing peppers using the wet method, do not get the seeds that will float as those seeds are not fully matured yet, therefore, they are not good for saving
  • Drying may take time that is why patience is a virtue. Never speed this process up by cooking your seeds in the oven.
  • Check your sample from time to time. Freezing your seeds might help when you notice a presence of insects in your container. Three-day freezing is acceptable to get rid of them. Remove seeds that have white dots or holes.

Sowing

  • When you sow your seeds, lightly tamp the combination of soil, mix, and seeds in your container. This will ensure that there is a good contact between them. The effect of this tamping is that you will get an assurance that the nutrients will be relayed to the seeds.
  • Selecting your containers matter! Choose a container that is flat and wide. For starting seeds, clay pots are highly recommended. The wider the better, because this will prevent your seeds to overcrowd.
  • Decontaminate your containers before starting your seeds. You may soak your container in bleach (10% solution) for 15 to 30 minutes and dry before using.
  • Drainage and adequate air flow will prevent disease. Remember, bacteria and other pathogens thrive best in moist, dark and warm areas.
  • For practical gardeners like me, you may upcycle cardboard canisters and pill bottles for your storage needs. For starting seeds, feel free to use recycled plastic containers. Think about saving your next yogurt, ice cream, margarine containers for this purpose the next time you consume those.

#4. Hybrid or Pure Breed?

This has been a very controversial issue when it comes to seed saving. Technically, we discourage saving hybrid vegetable seeds to be saved as they will not be producing pure species by the time you harvest them.

Please be guided that the label F-1 does not necessarily mean ‘do not save’. You just have to be informed that this plant is from a successful cross-pollination of two pure lines because they wanted a specific characteristic to manifest. Hybrids are created naturally, however, if your plant is already from a hybrid seed, it is not wise to save your seeds because the generation that this plant will breed will be having low quality.

You might also encounter the word GMO seeds which, just like the hybrid seeds, are a combination of two or more varieties. Unlike cross-pollinated plants and seeds, on the other hand, genetically modified organisms are established in laboratories. If you read my statement slowly, I mentioned varieties, not ‘plant varieties’ to be specific because GE (genetically engineered) seeds are a combination of different biological kingdoms like bacteria and corn.

There are a huge number of researches that prove bad effects of genetically modified organisms on human health. Agriculturally, since GMO crops are still plants, they still have seeds which could be carried by insects and the wind. This may then cross-pollinate other produces. And we do not know how they might change the future generations of the affected plants.​

#5. Frequently Asked Questions

1.  How can I start to save the seeds in my garden?

Start to save seeds from crops that can be easily saved such as the ones we discussed above (beans, lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes). Make sure that you have an adequate amount of plants. Take into consideration the fact that you need to have a good population size to get your sample. You may have to adjust the placement of your plants to produce plants which are not hybrid. Proper spacing is important to prevent cross pollination.With this, it is important to properly plan what kinds of seeds you are going to collect and the sowing strategies you have to implement.

2. What are GMO? Are they suitable for saving?

GMO is an abbreviation that stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. From the term itself, these are living organisms that were produced with scientific innervations. Genetically modified organisms have DNAs that are combined from two (sometimes even more) different species.

There is a huge debate on this matter as there are localities banning GMO products. The benefit, however, of altering breeds is that they create a new type in which the good traits of two strains can be combined to create a product that will manifest them both.

Cross-breeding is typically done for different reasons. Primarily, agriculturists would want to create a crop that can resist insect and disease better, are more adaptable to different kinds of soil and climate, are much more tolerant to heat or drought, can withstand pollution, and has a bigger nutritional value. Aside from the aforementioned reasons, breeding can minimize the impact on soil and off-farm, develop produce for populations with low resources, and are claimed to support whole-farm ecology.

In some states, production of genetically engineered seeds is prohibited. There are so many studies that prove the negative consequences of a genetically modified organism. Hence, I also do not support saving seeds from a GE plant.

3. What are organic produces?

Organic produces come from 100% organic seeds. Organic gardening ensures that the crop is void of any chemicals in any form such as fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides. Farmers who grow organic produces make use of all-natural fertilizers, manures, and compost.

Aside from being safe, organic gardening is highly encouraged because it is also easy and more affordable.

Unfortunately, there are so many genetically modified organisms today. To prevent your organic garden to be contaminated with GMOs, buy single-ingredient organic foods, grow your own heirloom or open-pollinated plants, and practice isolation techniques for your plants.

4. How can I grow plants from seeds?

It’s easy! You can do it in five steps: select, harvest, clean, dry and store. Select which fruit you would like to grow next season. Wait until the fruit is overly ripe but not rotten. Once it is ready, cut the fruit in two, and scoop the seeds. Cleaning can be done in different methods if you are saving tomato seeds, put the seeds and the gel around it to a bottle of water and stir occasionally for two days. Once the seeds are totally separated from the gel, you may take it out and dry it. Use towels, plate or glass for drying. Never use paper products as the fibers can stick on the seed. Dry your seeds for at least 2 weeks. You may plant the seeds to your garden beds or pots once they dry completely.

5. I do not have a garden but I am planning to start one. Where can I buy seeds?