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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hidden Inflation plus Greed equals Screw you


Inflation is not always so transparent, like buying food products. Oh one can say the price has been  the same for a very long while, but the dirty little marketing schemes remain mostly unnoticed .
Take coffee, and I think most already know this, a pound of coffee is no longer a pound. The 16 ounces  now is as low as11 ounces and the price goes up. At first glance, the coffee can looks the same but it is not.
Look at boxed cereal. Again, looks pretty much the same, but it isn’t.. The box is “skinny” and the statement on the box says it is full , but the contents have settled.
Toilet paper, not food but a needed item, the light cardboard cylinder is larger which adjusts to less paper, same price though. Almost all products have slipped it to us . This is hidden inflation and it equals to screw you.
Surveys have shown the more often one goes to the market, the more one spends on food and other items, up to 50% more. Those who go once a week or very two weeks or even once a month spend far less money.
To really make your bucks count make a list and stick to it. The items they want you to buy are at eye level—better profit for the store—so look at the lower and higher items on the shelf. Many times, the store brand is a far better buy. It is your money use it in a wise manner. Take advantage of sales know the prices, try to buy much used items in bulk. You will find once you buy items that you use a lot in bulk, you’ll see you are saving bucks in the long haul.
Lets look at unemployment as well. If we used the same methods to measure unemployment as, they did in the 80s and even the 90s, we find that the real rate is 7 to 8 times what the government is reporting with a different method… the modern way. Likewise, inflation would be 8 to 9 times what we are being told.
Inflation shows up even more for the price of a new car/truck, more than most make a year. Although housing costs are down they are still out of reach for those with a modest income.
We are told we should spend money to help out the economy, oh so it is our fault. Money is being spent it just doesn’t allow for much extra, unless one is caught in the credit card trap.
I feel now is the time to be very prudent with your money and any commitments. Those of a lower income feel it the most, some pay as much as 50% of their income for rent and almost the same for food. That is pretty tough to deal with. Many retired folk might live in a very nice home, looks good from the outside, but inside they are barely eating, but are caught in a trap of keeping up a great front all for appearance’s sake. I know two couples who live like this. They are embarrassed to let family and friends know the truth. The stats show that within 5 years of retirement, the average person is in financial trouble… inflation ate them up.
If you are aware of certain things, you can supplement many food items by forging or look for gleaning opportunities—make your own salads, pick left over fruit. Where I used to live, if I rode my bike in the alleys I found fruit hanging over fences and it was there for the taking, oranges, apples, avocados , peaches, etc. With a pickup truck, you could make a good haul.
Knowing the wild foods is a huge plus. Lambs quarter is a super rich food. cook it like spinach .I have found it in alleys and empty lots in the city . Purslane, another great food, add it to any salad, or stew etc. Many more wonderful foods are available for the taking. And way better than the junk you find at the market
…Keep the bucks in your pocket.
By Dude McLean

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Something To Be Aware Of About Preps

 Recently,  I was consulting with a family about their preps when I dropped an unexpected bomb on them with this question, does each family member know how to use your preps? What if for whatever reason  you are not home , do they know how to cook with the storage food you have on hand or how to cook anything at all...Do they know how to make a fire lay that is good for cooking and or warmth , or how to use a camp stove. . How about your emergency lighting. Can they use the tools you have stashed , what about weapons, each member should know how to use them and when.

 Do they have a plan in case you can't get home? Do they know where everything is? What to do if you are sick or injured and one of them must step up to the situation at hand. I feel a good thing is the whole family take a first aid course. Each person take a course on self defense, and a basic, at the  least,  handgun course, depending on age, that would be your call.  if you have a communication radio, ham radios, short wave and such, do they know how it works? If not, teach them most will find it fun. A ham radio would be the number one choice for use. Short wave you might gather additional info. In certain parts of the world a weather radio could be a good move also. For close to home those two way radios might be fine but not secure . Everyone in the family should know how to use them.

If you have a genset each member should know how to start it and hook up. Having a bug out plan that is flexible and where to meet up. Best it is not a long distance away if at all possible . The shorter the better to my mind, you might have to make more than one trip. Some members might be way too young to go far on foot . And most will not be able to carry a young one and some gear very far, that's for movies and TV. fantasy survivalists. You get the picture. 

 You have your own list of what you have stashed away , I suggest you work down the list and break out gear to share with  them and do your own test with them. If they say oh I get it, make them show you, leave nothing to chance. 

 This is short and sweet, all it is, a suggestion to really be prepared for you and your family , you have to fill in the blanks.  Make it all fun and it will go easy. Don't be caught up the well known creek. or in a world of surprise. I shoulda, is not a good excuse when your family is involved.

by  Dude McLean


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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Attitude, Confidence And A Misleading Survival Stance Don’t Be That Guy

Most in the survival world seem very confident about their own ability to cope with myriad survival conditions. Having been involved with many survival forums over the years, and before that time, the countless articles, magazines, videos and books that seem to repeat each other, for the most part, have pretty much convinced those with some skills that they will be able to cope. Nice point of view from your comfy survival chair. I believe some will cope and many more will not. Sure this is speculation on my part. However, it is based on observing many students in the field over a period of 40 years and even more over the last 25 years. Most are not natural leaders, or self starters—both a must in a survival nightmare like a very major earthquake that will shake and destroy the world around you. Even with a plan in place. An event like that will rock you to your knees, with reality slapping you in the face. What you do first will be key.Will your supplies be safe or are they buried under a pile of rubble? That is a trauma of the highest degree. Is your family safe for the moment? Depending on where you live how will the other victims react . Injuries will also dictate your actions . What if you are one who is hurt, not able to walk, what is the plan in that case? You may have the right attitude, but an unexpected injury could really derail your confidence factor.
Now, I hate what ifs that seem so prevalent on forums and I am not going to follow that path. Instead, turn to your own skills. Do you “own those skills”, from the mundane like cooking under primitive conditions, able to improvise on the spot and make do? Have you the ability to comfort others when things are not working so well? Have you the knowledge—read really own the skills—of the urban environment to take advantage for the conditions you find yourself in? Do you have the knowledge to lead your family to high ground and set up a “camp”, perhaps a primitive one? Would you have the fortitude, if need be, to raid a neighbors home for food and other items you feel will help you. Would that be an option, or will your survival skills training kick in without that “free lunch”?
Having a base of owning the primitive skills will carry you a long ways, no matter the conditions . I feel you need to really buckle down and do not fool yourself about your true skills and abilities. Sure attitude and confidence will help you travel some distance, in most cases, but that has to be backed up with true skills not B.S. Look deep into yourself for those answers. Keep in mind that ego can kill you . Confidence means nothing if you don’t have the skill. Attitude is not a skill. Mindset is not a skill. knowledge is a skill.
Now is the time, while you can learn. On the job training is not an option. Learning from who you choose as the masters is also important. Be careful of those who are really just one step ahead of you.. Sometimes that’s okay. If questions cannot be addressed in an articulate manner that could be a clue to move on. Any instructor must be honest with his students. Its okay if they don’t know everything on a subject. Their knowledge, however, should be more than surface deep.
Calamities wait for no man and strike at any given time. Be ready, own the skills, practice and seek knowledge… Do it while you can! I feel, for many reasons, we are in for a bumpy ride. Some of it could be manmade.
Don’t fool yourself, the real deal walks the walk , the rest die…. There will be a test.!
By Dude McLean


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Plant Identification

When one thinks about all the plants in front of them, it can be a bit overwhelming by the fact they all have a name. And you have to learn those names, plus what the plant use is…Wow, that can be a daunting task if you want to make it so.
1993 is when I first met Christopher Nyerges and it was a wild foods cooking class. I had a ball. However, my goal was to really learn more about plant identification. Oh, I had been to other instructors over the years, but not much stuck, or they knew a little more than I did already. I recall I said something to Christopher along the lines of, it is kind of overwhelming to learn all those plants. He gave the best advice about plants and it applies to many things, and that was, “you learn one plant at a time” and “if you retain or learn two or three new plants a week you are doing well”. My original goal was to really learn about 25 plants, and that, I felt, would be enough. Little did I know that I would get hooked and those 25 plants were just the start of a continuing quest to learn more. Once I knew those plants, it left a whole lot more. Thankfully, Christopher is a natural teacher, just born that way I guess …he makes it very interesting.
In his book ” Guide To Wild Foods, in the footsteps of our ancestors” he details the plants with a lot of line drawings and great comments about each plant. I complained about the line drawings and he set me straight. Once you get to know certain things, the line drawings will help more than many pictures will. Turned out that was true. Trying to learn all the plants with just a book, however, is a hard thing to do. Nothing beats a real live instructor in the field with you.
Once you get to know a lot of plants, the books come into play because you have a foundation to work from. I remember sitting down with Christopher and being able to I.D. every plant included in his book, with the exception of one plant I had never seen in person, “catnip”. Wow I knew over 70 plants and what their uses were. I felt good about that knowledge and no one can take that away from me.
It is about learning one plant at a time, just as you learned plants one at a time as little kid; That is a watermelon, those are carrots, that is a radish, that is a cabbage, that is a tomato and so on.. You learn where many plants will grow, the best conditions they grow under and the difference’s in the same plant when it has more shade or more sun light, what the plant looks like when it is dead and what it looks like as a very young greeny thing just poking out of the ground. This all takes countless hours, days and months that turn into years in the field tramping out and about. Nothing is easy and there are no shortcuts to learning the plants. You need dedication and a get up and do it attitude, most of it is fun and the end result is very rewarding IE: example in that the Halcon, Christopher and I, are speeding down the road at 80mph— Halcon driving —and we are naming plants as we whiz by and then slamming on the brakes. ” is that what we think it is?” backing up at 50 and confirming what we saw at 80. Or knowing what you can add to your wild food salad helped along by Trader Joes dressing , making soups and tea from stinging nettles, owning the knowhow for a sore throat just filling your pot for a wild lunch, foraging as you travel along for that noonday meal.
The point of all of this is you have to start someplace. It won't just happen. The cool thing is that Christopher’s book is being upgraded in a new edition with more info and color pictures, due out very soon.. Also, if I can do it so can you. Where ever you live, track down those with plant knowledge and learn in the field with the help of a great guide, like Christopher’s book. And after all these years I am proud that Christopher is a real friend and partner.
Plant I.D. is or should be a part of your survival knowledge base. After all, it will feed you and help with sickness and injuries.

By Dude McLean


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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Living A Static Life

Is or has your life been static, meaning you have not changed a thing in your life over time? I highly doubt it. Most do not remain the same.
I recall I was with an uncle, who as a young man delivered ice to homes when everyone had an ice box, not a fridge. He was the ice man, at 19, for one year. Flash forward to when he was 75 and ran into a guy he knew way back then. The guy asked my uncle if he was still an iceman. My uncle almost fell over.. “What the hell are you asking me am I still an iceman for? You ^%$)(_+ idjit.” and it went on from there.
What brought this to mind was a recent experience I had much along the same thought pattern. A guy I knew since I was a teenager recently saw some videos that Alan Halcon, Christopher Nyerges and yours truly made, and said I was full of crap and BS and asked when did I ever do that stuff. My response was, ” Well, you never knew me well at all and I know you think I didnt know a thing about the outdoors life, based on when I asked you question once when we were fishing about how you tried a knot. It was method I was not aware of. Since then, you have only seen me a few times for short periods over the last almost 60 years. I could not talk about the skills and not be called out if I didnt know what I was talking about. I have spent years perfecting my outdoor skill sets. My life did not remain static. I could not have written for a magazine for 7 years if I did not own the skills.” I was kind of stunned by his remarks, the man has no idea of what my life has been about. my respect for him went out the window. I thought he was better than that kind of thinking, guess not.
No one lives a static life. We all move forward and we take many paths. To think a person has not had the ability to learn new things and move forward is very rigid thinking at best. I know we tend to place people in slots and remember them as we last saw them. We seem to think they never moved on and grew.
I was in the Marine Corps. Afterward, I worked on shipping docks, drove a truck, installed TVs, painted houses and movie sets, and then had a career in the music business for 40 years. That career allowed me plenty of time off to pursue my love of the outdoors. I wrote a book for songwriters ” the song writers survival guide to success”. As teenagers, we became very enthralled with falconry and learned how to rappel over cliffs and learning the ways of an outdoor life. Camping was make do with what we had, though it wasn’t much by todays standards. There is always more to any person than meets the eye, or what you might think of them.
I’ve never known anyone who has not moved on and grown and have been surprised several times at what they have accomplished in life. This is kind of a rant, but I think it is easy to discredit someone when you don’t know any facts. It also shows a great lack of respect. The only thing that has remained static in my life is I’m still a Marine, once a Marine always a Marine—Static in its finest form.
By Dude McLean


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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Subsistence Survival Re: The Stealth Poacher

If it came down to real subsistence in your world by whatever worldwide collapse scenario you like best, I suggest you establish a few things:
Knowledge of your terrain—study every map you can and the history of your area. Read everything you can get your hands on concerning that history, whoever the native peoples were and what they considered to be staples. Learn to identify those resources. and how to use them to your advantage. In other words, walk in those ancient footsteps—be one with them. Simple things like the game trails, the old peoples paths, caves and cliffs, seasonal creeks, springs, and even a small seepage could be very important.
Try to camp out as much as possible. If that is not a option due to laws, rules etc. be familiar with the sites that offer the potential. You might try a stealth camp, your call. If you can locate a place that would offer a cache site then do so . If you can pre build a quality shelter that’s a plus. It must be well hidden.
Even if you plan to bug out have your backup plan in place if the first option fails you at the last minute, no use being helpless. Have that backup. Even most large cities have places nearby. Take L.A for instance, it is surrounded by what I call the ” instant wilderness”. It is like stepping over a line after a few miles and you have creeks, waterfalls and lots of game, from bear to bushy tails to bunnies, lots of deer and everything in between. The possibilities are endless. Sure it might be a little crowded at the start of things, but if you have truly done your homework, you will be able to avoid those people with ease. The point is to know the area so well you could disappear in a heartbeat, and lose anyone who spots you. For those who live in a rural area it should be a snap to learn the places that work best.. Stay off of any established trails. They are trails for a reason, over the years a whole lot of folks have used those trails and could be drawn to them, no matter that you may have never seen another person on them. Trails that are worn mean people. I think for most bugging out will problem. You can count the ways you could be SOL, road blocks, natural barriers, or manmade, traffic way beyond your wildest dreams, and raiders, don’t discount those types at all. When society implodes it will produce, in a minute, every stereotype we have ever seen or heard about. If you have planned well you will have avoided them.
Poaching is a word that conjures up trophy hunters and the like, not what I’m talking about. Subsistence in a real survival situation is usually excused. But in a breakdown, most laws, at first anyway, will be out the window. In any country that has had breakdowns, law continues to a certain degree. Many people still go to work and government is not going to let go all that easily. So in order to harvest any game, stealth will be the order of the day, no matter the season . You have to eat for you and your family. Hopefully you will have some supplies put away where you can get your grubby mitts on them. By foraging, you will help fill your larder. Many have learned the basics of trapping at our Dirttime events. by setting snares and the smart use of the rat trap, you can harvest bushy tails, cotton tails and other small rodents and even birds and other critters. Small game can be way more productive and a few small critters will fill your tummy. You can snare deer as well, not legal but will work well and it is quiet. We are talking about a real collapse here, not fun a games. In fact, you can snare any game. Dead falls will work well also. You can harvest a bear with a dead fall if you have the guts to set the sucker and even snare him.
Even if your trapping skills sadly lack, you can trap critters, by following a few simple rules.
  1. Learn to recognize game trails for what they are.
  2. Learn at least a few imprints and Identify the critter.
  3. learn what they eat.
  4. Learn what it looks like where deer stay the night, look in heavy brushy areas or a heavy crowded woodsy area. look for the grass or high weeds that have been flattened that is where they bed down.
  5. Remember all critters need water and that brings us to fishing. A line and a pole wont really cut it in most places. You are not there for sport, a fish trap is not difficult to make. A few devices are available that allows one to set several in place and leave them.
  • Check all traps at least twice a day
  • Mark where they are. No matter that you are in survival mode, no need to have any animal suffer needlessly.
  • Stealth is the key.
I had a cousin who found himself in a desperate situation, his family needed food He was beside himself and would not ask for help from his wealthy dad or anyone else— pride can be a downfall. He cruised the back roads looking for a deer out of season. He was stopped by a game warden who saw him using a light, not legal . My cousin was so embarrassed he broke down and told the game warden his plight and why he trying to poach. He was lucky, the game warden took him to his own home and gave him steaks from an elk and other goodies. He told me this story not long before he died, he never told his dad.
Poaching is one thing survival poaching is another thing. On any level I have no respect for any kind of trophy hunting. Why are they taking out the prime DNA is beyond me.
There is a time and place. Check yer 6 by covering it at all times. It will pay off.

By Dude McLean


By Dude McLean


Please feel free to post comments on my articles, I enjoy hearing from and responding to my readers. When you're finished posting your comment please click PUBLISH to share your comment with me and my readers. 

In A Grid Down World

“Grid down” is a rational fear. China is perfecting their device to use EMP on Taiwan, and if we interfere most likely on us, or at least the ships we might have in the area. Put that aside for a moment. China has called for the dollar to be replaced by a world currency, again. What with the money the money the U.S. owes them grows by the minute, they are running short of waiting.
Next, the grid is very fragile in the first place. We have three grids that are linked—Eastern, Western and Texas ( that always struck me as strange). We really have no control of the grid. We are sitting ducks just quacking along, willy nilly, in our own little bubble of electricity, power, lights, gas and all that goes with it. Terrorists could inject a virus, in a heartbeat, in this computer driven nightmare waiting to happen.
EMP is a legit fear of downing the grid.
Many millions heat their homes with electricity, not to mention lights. Many oil heaters use an electric switch to turn them on. If an EMP hit, our love affair with computers would be over, bam! Just like that. Most systems in your home would not work. If you have solar you might be able to keep a few things going, like your fridge for a few hours a day. In some cases, those who have gennys will be able to continue running some things, but they use a lot of fuel. How much does the average person have stored? enough to last a week or a month, and then what?
Most do not have a large supply of batteries—how long before those are gone.
In a grid down world we will not be able to buy gas, because those pumps are all electric. Any kind of fuel is very hard to store, for most urban folks.
Always fill your tank when it is at the half way mark. Gas will be huge to have in those urban areas, but impossible to store much. Some in the more rural areas might have an advantage, or not, because the EMP will affect most trucks and cars that have computers. By 1980-81 computers were being installed in many cars and trucks.
Kerosene stores for a very longtime and with frugal use you would be able to cook on camp stoves and have old time lanterns for light. Today they have excellent kerosene heaters that are fairly inexpensive, might be prudent to have a few on hand. In the high desert, where I live, wind generators are a common thing to see. However, after talking with a number of folks about them, I am not to keen on trying them. They have several maintenance problems and tend to break down a lot, but it could be a viable option for some, your call.
If you have a bike, it might work well for personal transportation. If you have a horse, that could work also. I feel transportation could be a major deal. Just going to buy food would be a hardship.
If you have a generator lock it down. The Halcon and I did an interview with a guy who was in a location when a large section of the grid went down, due to ice storms. One of the dirty tricks by bandits was to roll up to house, deep in the night, where they would hear a genny running. They would pull out a gas lawn mower, turn it on, and leave it running next to the genny, while they took off with the genny. No one wake up because they could hear their genny running. Neat trick, eh?
By going low tech depending, on the time of year and where your are located, you could setup several zeer pots. You would need the parts ahead of time though. It would help preserve foods that spoil rapidly without a fridge. Zeer pots are cheap and easy to set up . I gave a class on them at Dirttime 9. You need a very large unglazed clay pot, or flower pot if you will. Cover the bottom with about 2 inches of wet sand. Be sure to plug the hole in the bottom of the pot. The second pot must be able to fit inside the larger pot, and you tuck in wet sand all around the sides, between the two pots. The smaller pot can be glazed, or you use a copper or an aluminum pot as well. Make sure the sand between the pots is all wet down. Cover the top with a wet cloth. Place in the shade where a breeze will hit it. This will keep a lot of foods from spoiling before you can eat it… It works! Those that have a root cellar will be streets ahead of most folks
In a grid down world, it will be calling on you to be your primitive self. A grid down world might last weeks, months or more. Without electricity, it would be a far different world most of us have never known, affecting millions who have to have certain meds to keep alive. I think we take for granted certain services that are almost invisible, like garbage pickup. Since that happy service will be gone, it is amazing how fast a place will fill up with garbage. Your option might be burning the garbage. I would find a few barrels—now—that you can use for burning. You might think about digging a large pit for garbage but in some areas that won't work well. And, even if just a few folks are eating and creating the garbage, it piles up very fast.
In the. GRID DOWN WORLD, being prepared and truly owning the skills is going to be a huge deal. You must think outside of the box, because their won't be a box.
I really hope none of the potential tragedy’s that are looming never happen. Our wonderful way of life could be erased in a minute. If it happens think of as a very long term camping.


By Dude McLean


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Bartering

Much of the research I have done, for any kind of collapse, speaks a lot about barter. Seems to me all the advice about barter is monkey see monkey do items, IE: .22 bullets, or other common calibers like 9mm, .45APC, .223, 30-30 , .30-06 etc.(I feel I wouldn’t barter any ammo), booze , soap, needles, silver and gold coins, any unique skill sets you may have, that would apply in a Grid Down world. Sliver and gold, in smaller increments like silver dimes, quarters and half dollars is my suggestion. That way you aren’t spending a huge amount for bread or whatever, although the value of items will be determined at the time. How do you make change for a silver dollar that is worth 30 bucks for a 3 dollar item, same goes for gold? Could be useful for purchases. My research shows that all countries, once the government money is no longer viable revert to the metals. The idea of barter clubs is mentioned a lot, shoes, boots, candles, and tools that require no electricity—old time drills that you crank yourself, as an example.
One of the many problems I see is the lack of barter knowledge… just how to do it. Any barter system has to be a win win deal. So trading has to be such that you dont come out on the short end of the stick. Driving a hard bargain will depend on what is offered up and do you really need the use of the item you are receiving. As opposed to the item you are losing, barter is an art and some have it and some don’t. In this country, we are not used to haggling, and seems odd to many. For others, it just comes to them.
Seems to me, what with all the advice being pretty much the same, I would look to other practical items that are not mentioned much, like traps. Part of the barter could include a few of the critters the other guy harvests, for a certain time period.
If everyone has the same items set aside for barter, then barter becomes a non issue. More of the items include cigarettes, or any form of tobacco, candy and other pleasure foods, that folks are advising you should have on hand as a barter tool. Don’t be in hurry for a so called deal. Take your time. Don’t be fast on the close, because the other guy just might offer up more goodies you need to complete the barter.
There is always the black market items as well. Those could be drugs, certain meds impossible to find. Guns, and other weapons. Keep your mouth shut about any of those type of items. The less anyone knows the better off you will be
Also you need some sort of a security for your home, where ever that ends up being. Remember, security for your critters as well, so someone doesn’t steal your chickens or what have you. Resorting to a watch maybe one answer, trading off those duties, set by the hour, and having an alarm signal for the rest of your family or close friends.
Foods like flour, corn meal, baking soda, lard, salt, and spices, might be worth way more than one may think. These types of basics you should have an abundance of—enough that you could spare some for barter. Keep in mind it is food you may need at another date in the future.
In a Grid Down world, caused on purpose or by an act of nature, we have no idea how long it might take to get back up. Food and water will be the bugaboos to keep replacing. Build a catchment system for water off of your roof, easy and cheap to do. One person I know of has already collected over 3000 gallons of water in the high desert.
Transportation will be a huge issue. Just moving some food goods from a location a few miles from your home base could prove to a major problem. A shanks mare may be your only mode of moving items. A small tough wagon, you can pull might prove to be a life saver.
Aquaponics, as opposed to hydroponics, is a great way to go. You can raise veggies by the tub full and raise fish as well, adding up to hundreds of pounds a year. If you do it, you won't be sorry and you can do it in your garage or outside for very little bucks. Check it out, lots of info on the net some for free. The size you choose is up to you. and you can do it in a series of barrels some upright or horizontal, or larger type tubs you can make from other containers with a few easy mods.
A Grid Down world will be difficult but doable . Hone your skills now for self reliance. Learn those wild edibles in your area Learn to trap and hunt Grow your own food. Plant fruit trees. Primitive skills will be an asset . Also, keep in mind, your own physical conditioning.
Let's hope it never comes to this, no matter the reason, but being ready now help ensure you and your families well being… Check your six


By Dude McLean

Please feel free to post comments on my articles, I enjoy hearing from and responding to my readers. When you're finished posting your comment please click PUBLISH to share your comment with me and my readers.