If you listened to episode 13 you know my family and I are on our way to Alaska. We are missing my father as he was to join us and if it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t even have considered such a trip as this at this time in our lives. But here we are miles from anything except an island off the coast of British Columbia. The journey to get onboard reminded me way too much of National Lampoon’s Vacation but not as funny. Almost 6 months were spent paying and planning for this trip and only during the last week did it appear as if we wouldn’t make it. I thought there was a plot from Mother Nature to prevent the trip and instead she did have plans to prevent it but for my father not me. Since I can’t make a fine time for my father my wife and I are resolved to make the best of a trip for our children. So far we and the Norwegian Pearl are doing a great job of that. Additionally, the time available allows for me to catch up on many of the episode plans I have made.
Testing my preps for basic survival
brief excursion into the mountains inspired me to write about how I am doing with our preparation for emergencies or disasters that do not result in our demise and require our bugging out of our home and moving to a safer location. How well could we survive the aftermath of events in which we would have to rely on ourselves and not on the current systems of support.
- Shenandoah National Forest
- Luray caverns
- Bug out danger! Not enough room.
- 19.6 cubic ft. Extra Large Waterproof Vehicle Cargo Carrier Bag
Although I had not deliberately put testing my preps on any to do list I was inspired to talk about the failings of my preps that I discovered while my 20 year old nephew from Japan was visiting this month. Yuta came to stay with us for 2 weeks and as part of his visit we decided that 2 days and one night spent in the beautiful Shenandoah Mountains would be just what he needed after his first rock and roll concert. My wife and I took him to see My chemical romance and Blink 182 on August 12th and I didn’t realize he had never been to a concert until then. I was blown away especially by blink 182 and I am pretty sure he enjoyed the show.
Our brief experience in the mountains inspired me to write about how I am doing with our preparation for emergencies or disasters that do not result in our demise and require our bugging out of our home and moving to a safer location. How well could we survive the aftermath of events in which we would have to rely on ourselves and not on the systems of support on which we currently rely. To do this I examined our ability to; bug out or move away from our home to an area of relative safety, start a fire, stay well watered and fed, have adequate shelter for surviving the elements, and provide basic self-defense.
Test number 1. Packing my gear and bugging out safely.
The next morning we packed up Toyota 4 runner to overload and headed off to the western side of Virginia and the Luray caverns. This magical and mysterious natural phenomenon is located just a few miles to the west o the Shenandoah mountains and we had heard it was a sight not to be missed. Thus, it made its way to plan for Yuta and in turn a two day visit to new York city was bumped for being too inconvenient. What better way to see and appreciate America than to do so from one of the most pristine areas you can find in this part of the country.
Anyway just as five of us and our dog pulled out of the driveway I realized that I would have to be very careful while driving as the 4runner was packed to the gills and I could not see anything from the rear view mirror and the sides prevented good viewing for changing lanes and making turns. Fortunately we had left early enough on a Saturday to avoid much traffic but I didn’t feel completely comfortable during the 90 minute trip to Luray, Virginia. This made me realize that in a real bug out situation not only would I be presented with the challenge of trying to get everything in the vehicle but I would also be prevented from making useful maneuvers if they became necessary during an unpleasant ride to safety.
Test number one, failure:
I need a solution to pack our bug out gear safely while leaving room that allows for proper viewing while driving. I will look into getting something I can pack and easily and safely strap to the top of my vehicle and I’ll report on that when I have an update. If anyone would like to provide some advice please do so in the show notes or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Test number 2, Fire starting:
We did not attempt to test our semi primitive fire starting skills until the day after we had set up camp due to the rain we endured the first evening. However, like all young and curious adventures my children did not want me to start cooking breakfast until we could start a fire without a lighter or match. A few years ago I had purchased a Quick start fire striker from Amazon.com. but I had never opened it to see if it would really work. I only assumed it would and that it would prove useful in any environment. The back of the package said I only needed paper to get a fire started from the hot sparks that result from striking a short magnesium rod with a flat piece of metal. Never take a product for its word without testing it for yourself.
I had my kids make a small pile of shredded newspaper and short thin sticks and for over 30 minutes we had all gotten tired from trying to get the sparks to ignite a fire. We exchanged the newspaper for toilet paper, paper towel and tissue paper but nothing would catch fire.
Test number two, failure:
When we returned home after our camping trip the first thing I asked my son to do was to google for ways to make the fire starter work easily in any environment. He quickly came back with some very common sensesical results. He said we needed to get the sparks from the striker to hit on dryer lint and or cotton balls. That immediately made such sense because it is hard to find dryer material than dryer lint or cotton balls. I also remembered hearing from somewhere before, probably thesurvivalpodcast.com that cotton balls soaked in Vaseline make excellent fire starting material. The next day we gathered up as much dryer lint we could and some cotton balls and practiced starting fires in the back yard. The results were quite encouraging. With a few strikes from the fire starter dryer lint catches fire rather quickly and if you have other material like cotton balls or shredded newspaper to help keep the flame alive you can add small sticks and gradually build a fire useful for anything necessary.
So right now we are busy stocking up on as much dryer lint as we can and that in turn will make it to our bug out bags along with cotton balls. I’ll have to try out the cotton balls soaked in Vaseline before I attempt to store them too.
Test number 3, Water and Food storage and preparation for bugging out:
Part of the gear we needed for the camping trip was enough water and food for 5 people for 2 full days. My nephew Yuta eats and drinks for two and my son is no small eater by any means. Thus I decided I had to pack for 6 people. I determined that came to about 12 gallons of water and drinks and 36 meals. Those numbers were quite intimidating but I had no choice other to make preparations. The water was fairly easy to provide as I had more than enough stored but as noted earlier packing it in the vehicle was the challenging part. One of the first things I put in the vehicle was a Mountain House 72 hour emergency food for one person that ordered last year through Readymade resources. This box contained 9 meals that were all freeze dried and ready to eat after adding cold or hot water. As part of my Survival Podcast member brigade benefits I receive a discount when I order from Ready Made resources. I thought that this camping trip presented a great opportunity to try some of the mountain house meals.
I only brought the 72 hour emergency food supply box along for experimental purposes so our camping gear was stocked my version of traditional camping food such as hot dogs, ground beef, eggs, bacon, milk, chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers. Since my son and nephew are always hungry I was able to get them try out some of the meals before I began to cook dinner in the rain. One had beef stroganoff and the other had teriyaki chicken with rice. I tried out the granola with blueberries and milk and my daughter ate the chili mac and cheese. All initial results were outstanding in taste, texture and ability to fill hungry bellies. We each only had one meal during the overnight camping trip but once we returned home the remaining meals were quickly eaten up as snacks and lunches.
Test number 3, Pass but more stores needed
When I purchased the 72 hour emergency food supply. I also ordered some of the number 10 can size Mountain House freeze dried foods such as granola with milk, scrambled eggs and bacon, pasta primavera, chili mac and cheese, chicken with rice and a few others. Each number 10 can contains about 10 servings. If I take into consideration the cans of freeze dried and dehydrated food from Honeyville Grains as well as what is stored in our pantries, 3 – 5 gallon buckets and our vehicle we have enough water for probably two weeks if rationed for drinking and minimal washing and enough food to last the same amount of time. That’s enough to get us through any short term interruption to our regular shopping schedule but it is dangerously not enough to last long term food price inflation, difficult economic situations, natural or manmade infrastructure destroying events.
I recommend that you check out the survival podcast for more ideas on food storage and respectable companies that you can rely on for supporting you and your loved ones in an emergency.
One of the first things I plan to do when I return to Virginia is to order at least 4 72 hour emergency food supply boxes from Mountain House as well as an additional 12 cans of dehydrated or freeze dried foods from Ready Made resources. This won’t be cheap but if it’s bought today it is like an investment as food only become more expensive going forward. Additionally, I need to stock more water and think of different ways of storing it.
One of the resources I will explore further is Chris Martenson’s website. Chrismartenson.com. On it he has a section for “What should I do” in regards to preparing for a future that has tighter constraints on energy, the environment and economics. One of the postings is about water storage and a link to it can be found in the show notes.
Test number 4, Protection from rain and the elements:
This was just our third camping trip as a family and I was not the one in my family to initiate the purchase of a tent or any other camping supplies like sleeping bags. My wife was the one who purchased our tent last year and she only did so because one of her friends had arranged for a large group of Japanese to go camping and she did not want to miss out. I couldn’t have doen a better job because she purchased a 6 person Coleman tent that is easy to set up, take down and store. The tent also came with a rain fly and when attached properly prevents rain from disturbing anyone’s sleep.
When we arrived in the mountains on August 13 a thunderstorm was fast approaching. The firs thing we did was set up the tent and we were able to do so in just about 15 minutes or a little less. This was our fourth set up and we get better each time. We were able to unload our gear into the tent just before the first of a long night’s rain began to fall.
At the same time she purchased a tent last year my wife also got a great coleman sleeping bag at a very reasonable price. The bag is extra large and has the capacity to keep one person warm in weather that approaches 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Although it rained the entire evening our spririts were maintained with good food, beer, smores, glowlights and hell if it’s not raining we’re not camping. Our sleep was fairly uninterrupted through a rainy night and the tent suited 5 people and our dog very comfortably. We would benefit from a large air mattress or two.
Test number 4, borderline pass/failure:
We could only do this comfortably between mid April and mid October and only in times when the reason for our bugging out does affect the greater population.
Provided we only need to bug out during the warmer 6 months of the year my family could survive an occurrence that requires our evacuation from our home and general area for one of greater safety. This is also dependent on whether or not we actually had a place we go to without reservations in a hurry. I wouldn’t want to run to the Shenandoah mountains without an advanced reservation as they are necessary usually no less than two weeks in advance of a visit.
Thus we have the gear to help us survive an adversity we really have good place to put them to use. What we need is at least a piece of land somewhere between 75 and 150 miles from our home. This way we could always have a ready place to run to and even if we don’t have any improved structures on it for starters. We could get by during half the year with just the tent for probably 1 – 2 weeks. However, there would be minimal chance for survival for most of the other half of the year without some type of shelter that’s better than a tent.
My next steps to resolve this dilemma would involve putting to use some of the advice I have received for thesurvivalpodcast.com about how to find and purchase the right bug out location. This will involve some surfing for land through some of the websites that Jack Spirko of TSP recommends. One site that stands out for its accuracy of information that can help to narrow the search is UnitedCountry.com. Then I have to find the way in which to help educate my wife of the need for land and how and why we should purchase some in a relatively safer place than where we currently live. That will be a tough as I am always trying to be vigilant about how we manage our expenses except when it comes to this trip to Alaska. One good sales point would be that if we did have a bug location that we own then could store water and food there and have ready supply for sustenance upon our arrival.
Test number 5, Self Defense while bugging out:
This evaluation is more hypothetical than anything else as we have not yet had to experience events that would require the use of lethal force in order to survive. Survival in the most simplified sense is the ability to continue to wake up each morning with relative health and wealth. If our camping expedition was an actual bug out emergency and I obeyed the laws of Virginia then the only things I had available to protect us from those who would wish us harm was my Kabar marine knife, some special CS-17 pepper spray, a protective but probably ineffective canine named Bronson and a couple of young children whose karate skills are nowhere a match for an intimidating foe.
Test number 5, Failure:
The recent drop in the global equities markets came at the same time we were planning our camping trip. This was another wake call for me to pay attention to how well prepared I am to protect my family in time of panic. The equities crashing combined with the recent 5.9 magnitude earthquake in Virginia and Hurricane Irene all have provided me with enough warning to better prepare for eventualities beyond my control that if passed a certain point law and order would diminish quickly and true self defense would become a priority. Additionally, if the quality of life diminished to the point where putting meat on the table once again depended on one’s ability to do so then having firearms to make that possible are a must.
The things I need to do to prevent undesirable consequences for my family and myself in time of disaster include getting a concealed carry license, increasing the diversity of firearms I currently own to include a shotgun and rifle, more training of myself and my children in the use of firearms, educating my wife more on the need for self defense and situational awareness. Training in self defense should also be extended to how to make the best use of the weapons I currently have and can legally carry with me at present. Thus instead of one person with 3 different weapons and only one of which being able to inflict lethal force my family could protect themselves with an arsenal that would give most any adversary pause if not good reason for flight from confrontation.
So that’s my evaluation of my family’s ability to bug out or evacuate our home and neighborhood in time of disaster. We failed in vehicle safety, fire starting, and self defense. We would be okay for short term evacuations when it comes to shelter but only in the warmer 6 months of the year. And finally we could pack enough water and food in a moment’s notice to last us possibly up to 2 weeks.
All of the things discussed in this episode are quite complex when examined more carefully and there are a number of resources for researching and implementing survival techniques. I highly recommend thesurvivalpodcast.com website and its forum for much more detailed information. The intention of this show was for me to put on record how we are doing when it comes to disaster preparedness and highlight the areas in which my family and I need to improve. The situations and experiences you have or will experience will not be the same as mine and you must be willing to customize how you approach disaster preparedness and bug out preparation.
That’s it for today now go and do something useful.
- Episode-9- Get The Bug Out Bag Ready
- Episode-115- Prepare Bug Out Bags For Survival And Emergencies
- Swedish Firesteel – Army Model, Black Handle
- Practical Survival Skills 101 – Water
- Readymade resources – Free shipping on case lots (6 #10 cans) of storable foods
- Practical Survival Skills 101 – Obtaining shelter
- Coleman Evanston 6 Tent
- Coleman Big Game Sleeping Bag with Pillow
- Buying rural land by Jack Spirko of The SurvivalPodcast.com
- Ka-Bar 2-1212-3 Black Fighting Knife
- Police Magnum Pepper Spray 466 3oz. Law Enforcement Unit ORMD Pepper Spray
- How to shoot a handgun accurately By Massad Ayoob
- Virginia Resident Concealed Handgun Permits
THE RUSSIAN HONEY BEE HIVE
It’s already August 27 as I tap out the notes for this podcast but the video in today’s show notes from August 7th on the ToDoListHome.com website and my Tokyo73 Youtube channel is very relevant to what was happening as of yesterday when I moved the bees into my screened gazebo and out of the path of hurricane Irene. Now that the weather is probably fine in Virginia I am hoping that bees have been able to adapt to the slight change in location and are continuing on with their plans for overwintering. Raising bees is helpful for me to better understand life and the consequences of my actions. I try to do the right thing and hope for the best while at the same time I plan for adversity. I moved them to safety from Irene, fed them and made a way for them to enter and exit the gazebo.
TODAY’S GARDENING CHORE
The harvests from the 2011 gardens have been very productive. This is evident in the numerous pictures I have placed in 2011 production. The link to these photos is located on the right hand side of the todolisthome.com website. It’s been a lot fun and work trying to get the gardens to produce as they have and as in past years we have noted some crops that have overproduced. We have harvested way too many cucumbers. I pickled a couple of jars so far but since no one in my family eats a lot of pickles and I am unsure how they will taste I have given away most of the cucumber harvest. Back in May when I thought I would have a failed cucumber crop I replanted some and it has been a bonanza for Yamato-the long thin Japanese style cucumber, straight 8’s and emperor Alexander cucumbers. I had planted about 16 cucumbers overall
Another crop that has overproduced and presented problems of how to make use of it is okra. Lots of okra has been harvested from 7 plants. Way too many for us to make use of. I have given many away including several to a neighbor who just loves the vegetable. But okra is a hard plant to give away. Not many people know what to do with it other than put it in soups. In the summer time there is not much soup making in the neighborhood but I try to recommend people to place the okra on some aluminum foil, drizzle olive oil on top, add salt and pepper, wrap it up and grill it until soft. It goes well with any meal and is very tasty. My wife also cooks them Japanese style by boiling them and putting on top of cooked rice and sprinkling with fish flakes. I don’t care for that style but I am happy to see them get consumed.
The cherry tomatoes have been producing steadily from just 4 plants for over two months now. That’s just been wonderful.
And the crop of the year has been yellow summer squash. I tried to keep track of how many were harvested but that proved difficult. That is one vegetable we never can get too much of. My family has eaten squash at least twice every week from the end of June and up until the time we left for Alaska at the end of August. I have given many away to friends, coworkers and neighbors and everyone seems to love them and they keep asking for more. This is a real success story because of the battle I won over the squash vine borer. On the todolisthome.com website you will find 2 videos that document the damage my plants incurred from a squash vine borer invasion. I lost 5 of my ten plants and took steps to heal the remainders. The second video shows how well my plan worked.
I don’t know what to expect from the gardens when I get back because I was away long enough to turn off all artificial means of support such as automatic watering and the general support I provide. I do have some neighbors that will come by to pick their favorites from the gardens and I hope they do but I didn’t want to impose on anyone with any watering or other caretaking chores. There are just way too many mosquitoes in my yards in the summer time to make it a comfortable chore for anyone unless they really spray themselves well with bug spray. I didn’t wish to impose on my neighbors’ daughters to that extent.
The approach I took with the bees is the same I took with the gardens. They were all well mulched, watered (especially from Irene) and supported to survive strong winds. Whether or not they did indeed survive and can last until I return remains to be seen but right now there is no great concern because there is nothing I can do about it.