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31 March, 2009

Baltimore Sun: "The rich prepare for the apocalypse - CEOs' desire for even more wealth a preparation for end-times luxury"

by Dan Rodricks
March 24, 2009

The decision by JPMorgan Chase to proceed with plans to spend $138 million on new jets and a hangar to house them, as ABC News reported Monday, fits right into my theory about why the corporate rich continue to indulge and reward themselves despite a public uproar amid financial crisis.

Same with the now-shelved plan at Constellation Energy Group to reward executives with about $32 million in performance benefits and retention incentives - I have a pretty good idea why such a feast had been arranged despite the company's near-bankruptcy, its layoff of some 800 employees and its demand for more money from electric customers.

And same with the whole AIG fiasco - those bonuses that went into the mail despite company catastrophe and the need for a $170 billion taxpayer-funded bailout - it, too, fits perfectly with this theory of mine, which I've kept to myself until now.

It's not just greed that drives this behavior, though greed is certainly part of it.

It's not that the smartest guys in the room are also the most obtuse or arrogant. ("When I hear the constant vilification of corporate America, I personally don't understand it," Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said in a recent speech. "I think it's hurting our country.")

There's something else going on. I call it: hoarding up for the apocalypse.

I have been watching the concentration of wealth in this country accelerate during the past 10 years in particular. The gap between middle class and rich has become wider and wider, and the gap between rich and poor has become so vast as to be immeasurable.

(Actually, it is measurable. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities tracked the long-standing trend of growing income inequality and found that it had gone crazy since 1990: On average, incomes for the bottom fifth of American families declined by 2.5 percent while those among the top fifth increased by 9.1 percent. More than one in four working families are considered low-income, earning too little to meet their basic needs, according to a research project funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, among others. One other factoid, from the Economic Policy Institute: The ratio of total CEO compensation to average worker pay rose from 24:1 in 1965 to 262:1 in 2005.)

Knowing that it wasn't always so, I've tried to figure out why so many millionaires of the corporate class do everything within their power to become multimillionaires and even billionaires, piling on layer after layer of wealth, beyond anything most people can imagine as necessary in a lifetime.

(Various groups and agencies that study the gap between rich and poor - those "class warfare" warriors who keep bringing this sore subject up - say the richest 1 percent of Americans own anywhere from 80 percent to 90 percent of all net assets. Or, at least they did before this mess, which many of them had a hand in creating.)

Hoarding for the apocalypse calls for belief that the end is coming and that wealth will insulate the wealthy from the misery that will befall the rest of us. (The rest of us might harbor apocalyptic fears, from time to time, but we haven't figured out what to do about them. We're wage-earners, for the most part, or the owners of small businesses. We haven't all that much to hoard - not enough to make a difference, anyway - so we keep working to keep the bills paid and the kids fed.)

The apocalyptic rich have hoarded cash and assets - and they continue to accumulate as much as possible - and they've built retreats to allay a deep fear that, when the world starts to fall apart, they will be at the top of a mountain, in a secure compound with its own source of energy and potable water (and a decade's supply of cabernet), isolated from the screaming, rioting masses.

Continue reading here.

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25 March, 2009

Re: Quick and Easy DIY Compost Bin

In yesterday's article, I described to you the process by which you can easily and inexpensively make your own compost bin to help with gardening/food production on your homestead. Today, I would like to expand on that idea with a design that will take a little more time and effort on your part, but can still be accomplished with relatively little expense and will benefit you even more in your quest for self-sufficiency and emergency preparedness efforts.

You'll need:
  1. A large plastic barrel, size is up to you - I suggest 30-55 gallon blue food-grade plastic
  2. 48 inch piece of 2 inch schedule 80 PVC
  3. Scrap lumber - 2x4s, best if treated
  4. Door hinge
  5. Drill with various size bits
  6. Circular saw
  7. Other basic hand tools
Steps:
  1. Drill a hole large enough to fit the section of PVC through in the top and bottom center of your barrel and then feed it through until it acts as an axle with the barrel lying on its side.
  2. Use the scrap 2x4s to build a stand: two boards on each side nailed together to form an "X" (four boards make two "Xs") and then nail the bottom points of both "Xs" to horizontal boards at the front and rear to create the stand. You should use six 2x4s to complete the whole thing.
  3. Place your barrel horizontally resting within the four top points of the two "Xs" and the whole thing now acts as a sort of cradle.
  4. Use the saw to remove a section from the center of the barrel, so that you can easily add and remove material from the composter.
  5. Use the door hinge and the plastic section you just removed to affix a permanent door in the side of your composter.
  6. Use the PVC as a handle by which to turn the barrel to aerate your compost.
And, you're done! Lehman's sells similar composters in the $200-$300 range, but yours didn't cost you anywhere near that. For best results, I would also suggest that you paint your barrel dark green or even black before you begin, as it will retain heat better and thereby break down your compost more efficiently.

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24 March, 2009

Quick and Easy DIY Compost Bin

If your soil is anything like ours, you're no stranger to the concept of composting as a means of enriching your growing medium. But, for the beginning gardener, it can seem a little overwhelming. It is something you want to get used to doing, though, especially if you have the survivalist mindset; whether your emergency preparedness efforts are predicated around Peak Oil, bird flu or any other pandemic, or an all-out TEOTWAWKI societal collapse, many of us can envision a time when we may be dependent on our gardens as a primary food source.

The goal of this article will be to teach you how to make your own dirt cheap compost bin using stuff you probably already have lying around the homestead. You can resize or otherwise amend this project at your convenience and to better fit your own unique situation.

You'll need:
  1. A bucket/container with a tight-fitting lid, size is up to you
  2. A drill with a small bit, the smaller the better
  3. Food scraps/dry leaves or grass clippings/a little soil to get you started
  4. Water, room temp. - not a lot, maybe a Hardees or Mickey D's cup full
Steps:
  1. Drill several small holes in the bottom of your bucket/container - seven or eight should be plenty. This is to provide for aeration of the contents and drainage of excess fluid.
  2. Do likewise with the lid.
  3. Place contents in the bucket, careful that all food scraps are completely covered by soil.
  4. Pour water over it all until it is moist but not soaking wet.
  5. Fasten lid.
  6. Place it in a shady area as direct sun will quickly dry it out.
And, that's it! You're composting! At this point, the bucket should be about half full. Each day as you add more food scraps, you'll want to stir it all to keep it aerated and ensure the bacteria can do its job. This can also be accomplished by tipping the bucket on its side (with the lid on tight, of course) and rolling it a few times daily. You may also find that you need to add water periodically, always with the goal of keeping the material moist but not too wet.

If you find that the smell is too strong, it could be because of either too much water or too much matter. Try not adding any more kitchen scraps for a few days. This can also be mitigated by placing the bucket away from your house, which will also help with the annoying fruit flies that will inevitably congregate.

It'll be three months or so before the compost will be ready for your garden. Also, you're going to want to be careful once it is time to start using the compost, because the temperature will be a bit high when it first comes out of the bucket. I would advise that you allow it to sit for a day after removing the lid so it can cool.

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22 March, 2009

Free E-books

Our friend Mickey over at the Survivalist Blog has decided to offer his entire e-book collection to his readers for free and has encouraged other bloggers to offer them to our readers as well. You can access this great resource here.

Here at Backwoods Blog, we have recently added many survivalist/disaster genre titles to our book and DVD stores. Please check them out and, if you buy, please use our links. Even if you plan on buying later, I encourage you to click on our links and add the items to your shopping cart. Even if it's next month before you pay for the items and complete the order, I will still get credit.

Also, if you haven't already, don't forget to check out our affiliate advertiser Park Seed's current promotion where they are offering $15 OFF $ 75 or More Just in Time For Spring Seed Starting! Shop Now! You'll need to enter Bonus code VICTORY at checkout to get the discount. The offer is good through April 30th. Park Seed has been in business since 1868 and they offer a nice selection of heirloom varieties for your home garden.

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21 March, 2009

Doyoudiggit.com Write-Up

A few days ago, we received a really nice write-up from the folks at Doyoudiggit.com. In case you missed it, you can view it here. Also, don't forget to subscribe to my RSS feed. Or, you can have our daily updates delivered directly to you via email.

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20 March, 2009

Build An Inexpensive Rain Barrel





*DISCLAIMER*: These plans call for using very inexpensive plastic trash cans, which have weak sidewalls. It would be much better to use the food-grade blue plastic barrels that can often be acquired on the cheap or even free from bottling plants, etc.

I am also not impressed by the "relief holes" which would result in soaking the area around the barrels a little too close to the building's foundation for my comfort. I would suggest instead that you fit a hose or tube to handle the overflow and carry it safely away by a few feet. Also, if you plan on using the water for more than just gardening, I would use three or four barrels as opposed to the two called for in these plans.

As far as quality is concerned, the configuration as shown will be fine for watering the garden, but if you want to drink the water you will need to filter it first.

Instructions

1. Choose the location.
* Site your rain barrels under a downspout, in an aesthetically appropriate spot. Keep in mind, too, that this is a gravity-based system, so it should be in one of the higher areas of your yard, if possible.
* If your lawn lacks a level base under a downspout, use concrete blocks, pavers, or treated lumber to build a flat platform for the barrels. Your base should be approximately 4 feet square.


2. Prepare the garbage cans.
* Remove and reroute the downspout to drain into Rain Barrel 1 (see Figure 1). You may wish to ask a Lowe's employee to help you with your downspout hardware needs.
* Using your drill/driver with a 3-inch hole saw attachment, cut a 3-inch hole into the lid of Rain Barrel 1, and insert the 3-inch atrium grate. (The downspout will fit on the atrium grate when you put the lid back on.)
* Create relief holes. With your drill/driver and a 1-inch Forstner bit, drill several 1-inch holes around the perimeter of the barrels just below the lids.
Tip: If you live in a region prone to mosquitoes, you may want to cover the relief holes and atrium grate with fine-mesh screen (#89305) to prevent breeding. To do this, cut a 2-inch-square piece of screen for each relief hole. With silicone sealant, attach the pieces to the holes on the inside of the barrel. (You can rough up, or scratch, the inside surface of the barrel to allow the sealant to adhere more easily.) Cut a 4-inch-square piece of screen for the atrium grate, and attach it in the same manner. For additional protection, add a mosquito disk (#92460) to the water when it accumulates. This will prevent the larvae from developing.


3. Connect the two rain barrels (see Figure 2).
* With your drill/driver and 1-inch Forstner bit, drill a 1-inch hole approximately 1 inch from the bottom of each rain barrel.
* Apply silicone sealant inside and outside of the perimeters of the 1-inch holes.
* Place an O ring on each adapter.
* Screw the adapters into the 1-inch holes, and place another O ring over the threads of each adapter on the insides of both rain barrels.
* Screw a threaded coupling onto each adapter, and apply another coat of silicone sealant to the joints of the O rings, both inside and outside of the rain barrels. Allow the sealant to partially cure.
* Use a PVC cutter to cut two 2-inch-long pieces of PVC pipe.
* For each barrel connector, you will now prime, glue, and rotate the components in the following order: First, apply purple primer to the inside of the adapter, the outside of the PVC pipe, and the inside of a fitting. Second, apply PVC cement to the inside of the adapter and to the outside of 1 inch of one end of the PVC pipe. Third, insert the cemented end of the PVC pipe into the adapter, and rotate one quarter of a turn.
* Repeat the process for the next component: You've already completed the priming, so apply PVC cement to the outside of the exposed end of the PVC pipe, and also to the inside of the fitting. Insert the PVC pipe into the fitting, and rotate one quarter of a turn.
* Repeat Steps 3g and 3h for the Rain Barrel 2 connector.
* Attach the washer connection hose to the fittings of each barrel connector.


4. Attach the drain (see Figure 3).
* With your drill/driver and 1-inch Forstner bit, drill a hole in Rain Barrel 2 for the drain system. Locate the hole in a spot that will give you easy access to the drain.
* Repeat Steps 3b through 3e to begin constructing the drain.
* Cut three more 2-inch pieces of PVC pipe.
* Apply purple primer and PVC cement to the first 1 inch of the outside of one piece of PVC pipe, and then apply purple primer and PVC cement to the interior of the adapter. Insert the PVC pipe into the adapter, and rotate one quarter of a turn.
* Repeat this priming, gluing, and rotating process to attach the remaining parts of the drain system in order: the PVC ball valve socket, a 2-inch piece of PVC pipe, the elbow, a 2-inch piece PVC pipe, and a fitting.
5. Use your collected rainwater.
* Put the lids on the rain barrels, fit the downspout on the atrium grate, and wait for rain. (If you need to weigh down your rain barrels before the first rain, simply add a few gallons of water.)
* Distribute the collected water to your plants by attaching a garden hose to the drain assembly or turning the valve to fill a watering can.


Source: http://www.lowescreativeideas.com/idea-library/projects/Rain_Barrels_0408.aspx

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19 March, 2009

After Hours Update - Site Spotlighted on Doyoudiggit.com!!!

I was just noticing a spike in unique visitors and didn't immediately recognize the path from which they came. So, I backtracked to a Technorati feed linked to where the site is currently being spotlighted by the folks at doyoudiggit.com, complete with a really nice write-up by their Blog Review Team!

Looking at where they've linked my name to my profile at blogcatalog.com that must be where they picked the feed up from. Impressive, since I only registered there two days ago.

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Further Discussion on Water Filtration and Treatment

Bison ran a decent post about water treatment/filtration yesterday and I thought I might follow his lead. I've covered this here on the blog a while ago as well as storage and preservation, but it's important enough with regard to emergency preparedness that it bears further discussion.

First off, in the interest of shameless self-promotion, I sell very nice water filters, so please buy from me. The most economical unit I have in my inventory is the KATADYN HIKER MICROFILTER for $59.95. It was chosen "Best of the bunch" by Backpacker magazine field testers not long ago. Watch a review here or a short official video from the manufacturer here. I don't currently sell the replacement filter cartridges, but they're available all over the internet - just Google "katadyn hiker filter replacement" and you'll be good to go.

I like the Katadyn filter because it's lightweight and portable, making it the perfect add-on to a survival kit.

For a more economical pseudo-DIY solution, I suggest the "Just Water" Ceramic Drip-Filter system. There is a great deal of info about this filter that can be found by reading this old thread from the LATOC Discussion Forums, but here is a summary:

* May not last as long as Berky filters, but cheaper with higher flow rate.

* Product used exclusively by the #2 relief organization in the world.

* Used by missionaries in 38 countries.

* Nominated for a World Health Humanitarian Award in 2008.

* Approved through testing at Johns Hopkins University and the National Sanitation Foundation, AEL Laboratories, Analytical Food Laboratories, British 5750 Quality Standard, and England’s Water Research Council standard.

As always, you need to use your own best judgment and decide your own course of action.

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18 March, 2009

How to Construct a Small Septic System

I've read a few times over on the Survivalist Blog and Bison Survival about the DIY septic systems they use at their respective retreats and I was intrigued; so, I went searching on the net for just how one might accomplish building one using those good ol' ubiquitous 55 gallon plastic barrels. Boy, did I find a cool site! I've linked to it below. I've also included a handful of the better pictures; to see more, follow the link back to their page. Enjoy!





Construct a Small Septic System - wikiHow


How to Construct a Small Septic System


from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Most private septic systems are made up of two parts: The holding and digesting tanks and the dispersal field. The system shown here is a small system, designed for limited use of by two people with no laundry and a small travel trailer. The concept is the same as a larger system, but the tank is much smaller. This system uses two 55 gallon drums, as opposed to the 1000 to 2000 gallon tanks used for a large home. The system we are creating here also has a dispersal field about one third that of a large home.

Steps


  1. Dig a ditch 4 feet wide, 26 feet long, and 3 feet deep.
  2. Assemble all the supplies, parts, and equipment. See the "Things You'll Need" list below.
  3. click to enlarge (3)Cut a hole in the top of each drum the size of the toilet flange pipe outside measurement. It should be near the edge. A saber saw is best for this task.
  4. click to enlarge (4)Attach a 4" toilet flange to each hole.
  5. click to enlarge (5)Cut two holes in the top side of the lower drum, as shown in the photo, 45 degrees away from a perpendicular line drawn from the hole on top to the far side.
  6. click to enlarge (6)Cut one hole in the upper drum opposite the hole in the top, as shown in the photo.
  7. click to enlarge (7)Place the drum with one hole in the side at the end of the trench. Level the drum. The top of the drum should be at least 4 inches below grade.
  8. click to enlarge (8)Dig a hole about one foot deeper for the placement of the second drum in front of the first.
  9. click to enlarge (9)Dig the hole mentioned in step 8 a little deeper and fill with gravel until the 90 ell fits perfectly from the hole in the side of the top drum to the toilet flange of the lower drum.
  10. Cut a 3 1/2" piece of 4" ABS pipe (nipple) and glue it into one end of the 90 ell. Cut another nipple about 2 1/2" long and glue it in the other end.
  11. Test the fit for alignment between the two drums. The end with the short nipple should go into the upper drum. It should look like the photo in Step 9.
  12. When you are sure about the fit, glue the end of the 3 1/2" nipple into the toilet flange. We will deal with sealing the connection to the upper drum later.
  13. click to enlarge (13)Glue a "Y" to 3 1/2 nipples and add a 45 degree bend to the left side of the "Y". Align the "Y" to meet the incoming waste line, and glue it into the toilet flange.
  14. Cut and glue (2) 2 1/2" nipples to the remaining two 45 degree bends at one end only and insert into holes in the side of the lower drum, as shown in the photo in step 7. The face of the two 45 degree bends should be perpendicular to the trench.
  15. click to enlarge (15)See photo in Step 7
  16. click to enlarge (16)Pound a stake into the ground so that the top of the stake is level with the bottom of the 45 degree bend coming out of one side of the bottom drum.
  17. Tape a 1" wide block to the end of a 4 foot level, as shown in the photo to the right.
  18. click to enlarge (18)Start the second stake a little less than 4 feet down the trench from the first.
  19. Lay the end of the level without the block on the first state and the block on the second. Pound the stake down until the level shows level when the block is on the second stake. The second stake is now 1" lower than the first, or 1/4" per foot.
  20. click to enlarge (20)Repeat this process until you have stakes the length of the trench.
  21. Place the gravel in the trench until the top of the gravel is equal with the top of the stakes.
  22. click to enlarge (22)The gravel should now slope away from the drums at 1/4" to the foot.
  23. click to enlarge (23)Place two pieces of 10 foot 4" perforated drain pipe connected with a slip coupler (holes down). Slide one end into the 45 degree bend of the lower drum. Repeat on the other side.
  24. click to enlarge (24)Check the drain pipes with the level and block to see if the 1/4" grade is consistent along the length of the pipe. Adjust by adding or removing gravel under the pipe.
  25. click to enlarge (25)Seal the 45 degree bends and the 90 degree bend to the lower and upper drums, respectively. I used a two part epoxy. You could also use silicon caulk. See the photo in step 6 for finished view of epoxy.
  26. Bury the trench to the top of the bottom drum with the remaining gravel.
  27. click to enlarge (27)Lay landscape fabric over the gravel. This will prevent the soil from seeping into the gravel.
  28. Fill the remaining trench area with soil, compacting well to the original grade.
  29. Fill the upper drum with water.


Tips


  • It is presumed that you know how to work with plastic ABS pipe. You must also have equipment to dig the trench (or be willing to get a lot of exercise).
  • The digestive tanks are made of two plastic 55 gallon drums. The waste fills the first tank, with the solids falling to the bottom. When the liquid reaches the level of the outfall to the second tank, it drains into it. If any solids are there, they fall to the bottom. When the liquid from the second tank reaches the two outfalls, it travels to the gravel leaching field for dispersal. Most of the solids will liquefy over time and be dispersed. After a couple of years, the solids may come to the top of the tank, and the tank will have to be pumped out.
  • The horizontal side of the "Y" connects to the waste source, and should be fitted with a connector that fits the source supply line.
  • The vertical side of the "Y" will be used to pump out the tank when it is completely fill with solids.
  • The depth of the trench is relative to the depth of the waste source line. If the line is deeper or higher than the one shown, you will have to dig the trench deeper or shallower to accommodate that depth. It's not that hard to figure. (Note: If you have too shallow of a trench, your septic system could be damaged easier.)
  • After a while, you may see settlement where the trench was. Fill with more soil and compact with wheel of your car. Don't drive over the area that contains the drums.


Warnings


  • This is a very small capacity system. This is not designed to meet the needs of a large household. It is designed for a small travel trailer and two people.
  • Depending on use, you may have to pump the upper drum once a year. The system shown here has been pumped twice in five years.
  • Local Septic Regulations should be followed when constructing a septic system.
  • Don't locate your septic system too close to trees, as tree roots will grow into your line, and cause them to clog (with roots) and with time, cause harm to your system.


Things You'll Need


  • (9) cubic yards of 3/4 or 1 1/2 crushed rock
  • (80) square feet of landscape fabric
  • (2) 55 gallon plastic drums
  • (10) ft of 4" ABS plastic pipe
  • (1) 4" ABS 90 degree bend (sometimes called a street Ell)
  • (1) 4" ABS Y branch (sometimes called a Y bend)
  • (3) 4" ABS 45 degree bend
  • (4) 10 ft. length of 4" perforated drain pipe
  • (2) 4" drain pipe couplers
  • (2) 4" toilet flanges
  • (1) 4' Level
  • (10) Wood Stakes
  • (1) Set of PVC glue
  • (1) Two part epoxy or silicon sealant
  • (1) 1" thick wood block
  • (1) Duct tape


Related wikiHows





Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Construct a Small Septic System. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.



IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that you remember this system is for 1-2 people only. If you need a setup that will carry a heavier load, you will need to up-size this design. I am not a plumber, so do not take this as professional advice, but logically I think you could just add additional plastic drums/barrels to augment the design to carry a heavier load. But, like I said before, I'm not a plumber so go with what makes sense to you.

Also, conventional wisdom dictates that all septic systems will require pumping eventually, but there are a lot of folks who say this is untrue and that you can eliminate expensive draining by using specialized products like this. Again, this not my advice; do a search on Google and make up your own mind.

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14 March, 2009

Human-Powered Washing Machine

This supposedly "new" concept bears a striking resemblance to this innovation that is available for purchase at Lehmans.com right now with the considerable difference that this newer idea would provide a measure of physical exercise in its use, thereby serving a dual purpose.

I can see this sort of thing being a really useful addition to a rural homestead from a self-sufficiency as well as an emergency preparedness standpoint. Washing clothes is often bandied-about in alternate energy forums as something that requires a lot of planning and can give you fits in an off-grid situation, so maybe this invention will find a home with those folks.

http://www.physorg.com/news154280985.html

"(PhysOrg.com) -- In many developing countries, electricity is unreliable or unavailable and water must be carried by hand, so conventional modern washing machines are not an option. Washing clothes can take up a significant amount of time, and doing laundry in open streams or lakes can add to water pollution, so the availability of a human-powered washing machine could make a big difference to the quality of life."

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12 March, 2009

Don't Throw Out Those Ashes!

It is common practice here in the backwoods to supplement a home's primary source of heating through the use of an old-fashioned fireplace or a wood-burning stove. As a result, copious amounts of waste are produced in the form of pound after pound of wood ash. Most people just toss theirs out, but the purpose of this article is to provide you with an alternative that will allow you to recycle and make use of what is normally considered garbage.

Ashes, and wood ash in particular, are generally very good for plants. When added to your soil, ashes are very alkaline, meaning they increase the pH and thereby decrease the acidity of the soil. This will allow you to more easily grow crops that normally do not thrive in more acidic growth mediums. One example of a food-producing plant that will love you for your ashes is the tomato, while potatoes would rather you hadn't bothered.

The rule of thumb in the past was to "weather" the ashes, allowing them to pile up and be exposed to the elements all Winter as you're burning wood for heat so that they would be ready for the garden in the Spring. That is the reason homes in bygone eras often had an "ash pile" out back. nowadays, however, most people say "weathering" is unnecessary and some even believe that allowing them to be exposed to rain, et cetera can actually lessen their potency. I say you should use whichever method best suits you and your family's situation and draw your own assumptions. Many compromise by adding the ash to their compost.

I would warn that it is probably not a great idea to attempt to decrease your soil's acidity unless you already know that you have acidic soil. Soil can be tested and often information for your area is available through your state's Department of Agriculture. In my case, I know I have acidic soil so adding wood ash is a perfect, no cost method for me to improve the soil at my homestead.

http://www.humeseeds.com/ashes.htm

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11 March, 2009

Columnar Apple Trees As A Self-Sufficiency Survivalist Crop

Maybe I'm way behind the times, but I had never heard of these little wonders until recently and now I can't seem to get my mind off of them. According to the description and the information I was able to find elsewhere online, they typically grow to a height of 8-10 feet and never branch-out, thereby maintaining their slim look. They are typically about 2 feet wide. They are hardy trees as well as early producers and the fruit is full-sized which was a concern I had. Generally, they will produce fruit for around 20 years!

The site linked below is selling them as a pair in order to ensure proper pollination.

http://www.gardeners.com/Columnar-Apple-Trees/37-513,default,pd.html

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Support Us/Make A Donation

As many of you are no doubt already aware, I operate this blog and its sister site Backwoods Essentials as a home-based business. It allows me to make my own hours and being at the homestead every day allows me to see to the preparations for me and mine more actively.

It is not, however, easy. In fact, it takes up a great deal of time and effort. Aside from writing the actual articles for the blog, I spend my day answering emails, fulfilling orders and fighting with suppliers... and, that's before I get into the day's news.

So please, if you can, try to give us your support. I have placed a button below that will allow you to make a donation via Paypal. If you think you are benefitting from the information we provide here, please give whatever you can. Or, better yet - in place of just sending us money, buy something from one of our sponsors or from Amazon using the affiliate links in the left and righthand sidebars (we earn a commission if you buy through us), or shop for all your survivalist and emergency preparedness needs at our store Backwoods Essentials.

Thank you for your support!





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10 March, 2009

Vitamin/Mineral Content As A Criteria For What To Grow In Your Garden

A core foundation of any self-sufficient lifestyle is the concept of food production. Food grown in your own garden is like an insurance policy. If and when you find yourself in a disaster or emergency where either the store-shelves are bare or maybe you can't get there at all, your garden will be there to support you. This is especially true is you've taken the very prudent extra initiative to preserve and put up your excess via canning or other methods so that you'll have it even after the growing season is long over. Also, when eating food you've grown yourself, you know exactly what it has been exposed to from the seed up; commercial foods are nearly always dowsed in who knows how many kinds of pesticides and other chemicals - the food you grow will be better for you.

Depending on the length of the emergency or in the event of all-out TEOTWAWKI (see glossary) scenario, it may be important to not only be sure you and your family can eat but also that what you're eating is providing you with sufficient nutrition in the form of vitamins and minerals. By and large, we Americans are often woefully deficient in vitamins and minerals in our diets in the best of times, nevermind how bad it would most likely be if we could no longer just run over to GNC to pick up a bottle of multivitamin supplement pills. Therefore, it is best to plan your garden in such a way as to provide you with true self-sufficiency in bad times as well as all the time.

There's lots of information to be found on this subject on the internet - far too much to cover it all here. I will try, however, to share a few things I've learned in order to get you started. First off, one tip that is easy to remember is that the richer the colors the better. Dark, deep greens as well as bright colors like red, orange or yellow (the brighter the better) are typically the really vitamin- and mineral-packed goodies. Some examples that fit this bill are peas, corn, pumpkins, beans and spinach or-- even better yet-- kale.

Typically all of the green, leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins but they tend to come up lacking in caloric value. It is actually possible to starve if you eat them alone in a phenomenon not altogether unlike that of "rabbit starvation." Therefore, calories and proteins should be your other priority. Some of the foods listed above will help in this area as well as being vitamin-rich, but another crop you should seriously consider is potatoes. Potatoes contain a significant amount of protein, plus vitamin C and other nutrients. It is, in fact, possible to survive on potatoes alone, if you include the peel. It is a sad truth that a majority of the nutrients in a potato are located directly beneath the peel and as such they are often cut off prior to cooking. Potatoes also keep comparatively well and with minimal work on our part, generally speaking.

Sharing a similar name is another outstanding crop you should consider planting. Not long ago, the Center for Science in the Public Interest ranked the sweet potato at the top of their list of nutrition of all vegetables (source: http://www.foodreference.com/html/sweet-pot-nutrition.html).

Again, this article is by no means an all-encompassing source of information on this topic, but I thought you might find it a useful start. If you've already made the decision to grow your garden for the coming lean times, it makes sense to grow it in a way that will allow it to properly sustain you and yours should it become your primary food source.


For More Information -

World's Healthiest Foods site: http://www.whfoods.com/foodstoc.php
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06 March, 2009

AP: Russian scholar believes dark days ahead for America...

Reading articles like the one below always makes me laugh a little because they seem so absurd, but the way things have been going the past little while it might be a good idea to, at least, think about the possibility. Interestingly enough, just two days ago I posted a youtube video of an interview with Glenn Beck in which he talks about an official whom he has known for years that is "from that part of the world" [i.e. the Russian Sphere of Influence] who confided in him that our President [then Bush] had spoken in an apocalyptic way, promising him the future support of the United States for his country "if we survive."

Scary.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iGM8kWMV6Kd2LoM80UvPXeeBJkqAD96N3GCG0

By MIKE ECKEL

MOSCOW (AP) — If you're inclined to believe Igor Panarin, and the Kremlin wouldn't mind if you did, then President Barack Obama will order martial law this year, the U.S. will split into six rump-states before 2011, and Russia and China will become the backbones of a new world order.
Panarin might be easy to ignore but for the fact that he is a dean at the Foreign Ministry's school for future diplomats and a regular on Russia's state-guided TV channels. And his predictions fit into the anti-American story line of the Kremlin leadership.

"There is a high probability that the collapse of the United States will occur by 2010," Panarin told dozens of students, professors and diplomats Tuesday at the Diplomatic Academy — a lecture the ministry pointedly invited The Associated Press and other foreign media to attend.

The prediction from Panarin, a former spokesman for Russia's Federal Space Agency and reportedly an ex-KGB analyst, meshes with the negative view of the U.S. that has been flowing from the Kremlin in recent years, in particular from Vladimir Putin.

Putin, the former president who is now prime minister, has likened the United States to Nazi Germany's Third Reich and blames Washington for the global financial crisis that has pounded the Russian economy.

Panarin didn't give many specifics on what underlies his analysis, mostly citing newspapers, magazines and other open sources.

He also noted he had been predicting the demise of the world's wealthiest country for more than a decade now.

But he said the recent economic turmoil in the U.S. and other "social and cultural phenomena" led him to nail down a specific timeframe for "The End" — when the United States will break up into six autonomous regions and Alaska will revert to Russian control.

Panarin argued that Americans are in moral decline, saying their great psychological stress is evident from school shootings, the size of the prison population and the number of gay men.

Turning to economic woes, he cited the slide in major stock indexes, the decline in U.S. gross domestic product and Washington's bailout of banking giant Citigroup as evidence that American dominance of global markets has collapsed.

"I was there recently and things are far from good," he said. "What's happened is the collapse of the American dream."

Panarin insisted he didn't wish for a U.S. collapse, but he predicted Russia and China would emerge from the economic turmoil stronger and said the two nations should work together, even to create a new currency to replace the U.S. dollar.

Asked for comment on how the Foreign Ministry views Panarin's theories, a spokesman said all questions had to be submitted in writing and no answers were likely before Wednesday.

It wasn't clear how persuasive the 20-minute lecture was. One instructor asked Panarin whether his predictions more accurately describe Russia, which is undergoing its worst economic crisis in a decade as well as a demographic collapse that has led some scholars to predict the country's demise.

Panarin dismissed that idea: "The collapse of Russia will not occur."

But Alexei Malashenko, a scholar-in-residence at the Carnegie Moscow Center who did not attend the lecture, sided with the skeptical instructor, saying Russia is the country that is on the verge of disintegration.

"I can't imagine at all how the United States could ever fall apart," Malashenko told the AP.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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05 March, 2009

Letter Re: Hillbilly No More?

"I wish, for once, that the media would focus not on the toothless Mt. Dew guzzlers with a mouth full of snuff, but on those of us who are college educated, have running water and indoor plumbing and are proudly in possession of all of our real teeth. We aren't that hard to find; in my opinion, we are even easier to find than those toothless inbreds that the media is so fond of." -- Amanda in West Virginia


My Response: I agree completely. It has always been almost like some morbid fascination that people have about so-called 'hillbillies' and the mainstream media (vultures that they are) and entertainment industry have been all-too-willing to oblige the seething masses. It all goes back to the same shameful part of human nature that makes some folks want to watch the "Faces of Death" videos and ogle crime scenes.

They feed people movies like "Wrong Turn" and endless jokes about "Deliverance" (which was set in Georgia, by the way, jackasses) and we are forever a maligned people. Just a few years ago, there was a big ol' dust-up about a reality show that was going to be like the real "Beverly Hillbillies;" they were planning to take the biggest rubes they could find and stick them in a swanky mansion and trust that the hilarity would then ensue. Activists complained and they thankfully cancelled the project before it ever saw the light of day. I will say that the "20/20" Special that aired a few weeks back tried to be more balanced than most, but who knows if we'll ever manage to shake the stereotypes.

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04 March, 2009

The Importance of Exercising Discretion with Regards to Your Survival/Emergency Preparations

Let's face it: we feel better when we feel like we're part of a community. It's a simple fact and a biological one. By and large and with few exceptions, human beings are social animals. The concept of fellowship is in our DNA. It's why we join civic groups, political parties, and even churches.

Needless to say, when one of us sheeple wakes up from the proverbial matrix of the herd-mind and begins to see just how fragile the world we live in really is, one of the first things we want to do is wake up others that we care about to the need for reasonable preparations. The only problem is that, in doing so, you are announcing to the world that when the lights go out you'll be the guy with a generator and lots of fuel; and, when the shelves are bare you'll be eating well. How long do you think it will take the guy you eat lunch with at work and tried unsuccessfully to bring around to remember where he can find a stocked pantry when he's on his second day without food?

Now, in that situation, you're faced with two choices: you either turn your back on him or he becomes your responsibility and it is now your job to look after him and whatever family or ragtag band he brings with him. You could, I suppose, contend that a third option would be to give them a hot meal and a warm bed and then send them away. I reject that notion, however, because they would just come back a few days later and you'd be right back to the first set of options, only this time they'd be even more desperate knowing you'd already sent them away once.

I, for one, doubt I could turn my back on them. Therefore, I fully envision that if the worst case scenario ever occurs I will have family and a small number of friends (those whom I've confided my beliefs in and are aware of my preps) for which to care. The only two provisos I claim in a TEOTWAWKI scenario are that my family comes first and everyone who wants to eat must be willing to work.

But, lately, a troubling trend has emerged. I touched on this topic in a post I wrote on 28 February and followed-up in my 1 March response to a letter from a reader. This is the recent rush to buy guns and ammo that we're seeing all over the place. People are afraid (and, rightfully so, I might add) that the current presidential administration and legislature are going to wage a war on the 2nd Amendment, and so guns and ammo are flying off store shelves and mostly into the hands of people who aren't going to have a crust of bread to eat if things really get bad. It reminds me of a post I read a few years ago on an internet bulletin board (can't recall which one) where a guy said (jokingly, I hope) that his preps consisted of a shotgun, several thousand shells, and a handwritten list of the names and addresses of his preparedness-minded friends.

Scary, huh? I hope it makes you think twice before sharing a lot of personal information on your website or blog. Unfortunately, I'm in a position where giving out a little information about myself is more or less required. As proprietor of a new home-based business, it looks a little shady when you hide things about yourself, all the while asking people to trust you with their credit card numbers. Even with that in mind, though, I would never give the exact location of my homestead online. To do so in today's world would be foolhearty, to say the very least.

So please be sure you're exercising discretion with regards to your survival/emergency preparations. Prepare providently and be ready to be charitable. We're all in this together.

Photobucket

03 March, 2009

Hillbilly No More?

I've been up-and-down at times when it comes to Governor Manchin, but I have to say I think he is on the right track on this subject and I applaud his efforts. My only concern would be that we not completely deny our own heritage in the process of trying to improve our image.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/186715?gt1=43002

By Tony Dokoupil Newsweek Web Exclusive
Feb 27, 2009

Born and raised in central
Appalachia, Shawn Grim is a walking hillbilly cliché. His mother has no teeth, none of his relatives graduated from high school and there's a gun rack on the wall of his family's ramshackle trailer. But he was still shocked last year when his brother, "Little Man," was caught in flagrante with his half-sister. "That is really disgusting in my book," said his mother of the incident, apparently not a one-off.

The scene, one of several shockers from ABC's recent documentary "Children of the Mountains," was shot on the Kentucky-West Virginia border, where the poverty rate is three times the national average, decay-ravaged "Mountain Dew mouth" is widespread and the life span is shorter than almost anywhere in America. But chances are that the stigma of these hoary Appalachian stereotypes will tar
West Virginia far more than its less-mountainous neighbor. That's because while we know Kentucky for Louisville, bluegrass and basketball, West Virginia's perceived backwardness has been one its most durable cultural memes—an unshakable label for a state that lacks a big city, a famous musical heritage or championship team to offer as an alternative.

That may soon change. Shedding the state's hillbilly image has become a personal crusade of
Gov. Joe Manchin, a charismatic Democrat who has authorized a multimillion blast of cash and marketing aimed not only at rehabilitating the region's reputation, but also stemming a three-decade exodus of the state's best and brightest residents.

In the next few weeks he will announce a "Come Home to West Virginia" spokesperson—the face of a new campaign to cast the state as a destination for families, entrepreneurs and young leaders. The larger initiative includes temporarily revamping the state slogan (out: "Wild and Wonderful"; in: "Open for Business!"), plowing money into state universities and pushing through tax breaks to encourage in-state filmmaking. Last year the state also launched a $5.5 million wave of splashy national advertisements—appearing on CNN Airport Network, the Golf Channel and in magazines like Fortune and BusinessWeek—touting the international companies that operate locally and flagging the state's economic health. (The unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country, and exports grew 41 percent last year, more than three times the national average.)

"You don't turn it overnight, but we're turning it," says Manchin, with justifiable caution. After all, it is possible to change a state's reputation. Just look at North Carolina, which managed to turn its image around from a perceived backwater at the start of the 20th century to the home of the vaunted Research Triangle today—including the highest concentration of Ph.D.s in the country.

West Virginia seems to be aiming for a similar outcome with the governor's "Bucks for Brains" program, which showers $50 million on state universities in an effort to help create 1,000 research-related jobs. He is also hoping to retain more of West Virginia's college-educated residents by highlighting the state's unique appeals—including country roads, small towns, low crime rates, outdoor activities and rich natural beauty. This year Manchin plans to sweeten the deal by proposing free in-state tuition for students who commit to working within the state after graduation.

But while you and I can reinvent ourselves by revamping our Facebook page, West Virginia's overhaul may require a deeper, more delicate approach, not least because many of the state's stereotypes are both longstanding and rooted in at least some fact.

Born gloriously during the Civil War as an antislavery, pro-Union slice of Virginia, the state was tarred by colorful 19th-century travel writers who claimed that isolated West Virginians prayed to the hills and still spoke Elizabethan English. Eleanor Roosevelt's poverty tour through mining towns in the 1930s once again trained the national spotlight on Appalachia and flooded national newspapers with shots of barefoot kids, toothless adults and ramshackle huts. Ditto the Lyndon Johnson–led "War on Poverty," which took Robert F. Kennedy to Appalachia's depressed coal region.

Decades later, the state is still battling some of the core problems underlying those stereotypes. More than
40 percent of the state’s older adults are toothless—the highest rate in the nation, according to the CDC. Nearly a third of all adults have lost six or more teeth. And because the state's Medicaid and Medicare programs do not generally reimburse for dentures or routine care for adults, and rates of dental insurance are low, West Virginians often end up living without teeth or with painful decay that looks all too much like the plastic "hillbilly teeth" still sold for Halloween. Compounding both the image and health issues, the state has the nation's highest rate of chewing-tobacco use and is among the top three states for tobacco use in general. Meanwhile, Huntington has the less-than-stellar honor of being the nation's unhealthiest city—a place where 50 percent of adults are obese. And, while the high-school graduation rate (72 percent) is two points above the national average, close to a fifth of the state lives in poverty.

As for those perpetual rumors of high incest rates, many of the state's mountain communities—unconnected by paved roads and railways until after World War II—have indeed been isolated enough to raise eyebrows about genetic diversity. But it has been the court of public opinion, fueled by programs like ABC's report from the region, rather than serious researchers who have suggested that there's something unusual about the incidence of incest in West Virginia. In 2004 Abercrombie & Fitch sold a shirt emblazoned with a map of West Virginia and the words IT'S ALL RELATIVE, while just last year then-Vice President Dick Cheney cracked that he had Cheneys on both sides of his family, "and we don't even live in West Virginia."

All of which suggests that Manchin's PR efforts may not be enough, and may even backfire. He extracted an apology from Cheney, and has vowed a zero-tolerance policy on the ongoing pop-culture slander of his state. "Every time I see it, I attack it and I defend us," he tells NEWSWEEK. But countering stereotypes means running the risk of reminding people of them in the first place. "Programs intended to diminish prejudices probably just as often reinforce them," says Dave Schneider, a Rice University psychologist and author of "The Psychology of Stereotyping." For example, luring filmmakers with low tax rates and scenic mountains doesn't mean they'll represent the area positively once they get there. Last year the Julianne Moore film "Shelter" issued a casting call for deformed people to play West Virginian "inbreds." The casting director got into hot water over the incident, but it's an indication of how too many outsiders still view the state.

Even some of West Virginia's own residents are having trouble seeing themselves differently. A call for a suitable state spokesperson has yielded a mixed bag, including people who wrote in with references to "loving my hills" and a place "where time stands still"—hardly the progressive, go-getting image the state wants to project. Bill Lepp, five-time victor of the West Virginia Liars Competition, is also a nominee.

There's also a certain lack of cohesion between officials and locals when it comes to promoting the state's big makeover. While the governor is pushing a forward-thinking "New West Virginia" campaign, tourist-conscious businesses in some parts of the state are proudly serving up less refined fare. The annual Road Kill Cook-Off in Pocahontas, for instance, features dishes you're unlikely to see at your local restaurant, including intestine-challenging "flat cat," "bumper bruised bear" and "deer schmear fajitas." The mere mention of it puts a hard edge in the governor's voice. "Are they still running that s––– down south?" he asks an aide in disbelief, before adding: "Well, I tell you what, if you see [the organizer], kill the son of a bitch."

Correction (published Feb. 27): Gov. Manchin is a Democrat, not a Republican, as previously reported.

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Making Things From Old Tires

Below is a link I found for some folks who are selling a DVD/VHS, book and rubber-cutting tool kit that I found very interesting and thought you might get a kick out of.

http://www.shop.tirecrafting.com/main.sc

Specifically, how about making sandals?

http://www.hollowtop.com/sandals.htm

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02 March, 2009

2nd Amendment Under Attack

The following is a short video taken from Lou Dobbs program on CNN regarding the 2nd Amendment rights of every American. For my part, I'll say that Mr. Dobbs is one of my very favorite television news people and he is, in my opinion, by-far the most sensible at CNN.


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01 March, 2009

Letter Re: Loading up on guns and ammo with no "real" preps...

Reader wvsanta wrote:

"Saw your comment on this subject at the WV preppers network. Very wise decision on the purchase of the insurance policy or lead slinger. If you have no way to fend of the unwanted your SOL if anyone trys to take what you have worked hard to put back for your family. nitewalker [the main contributor at WV Prepper's Network blog] comes up with some real good post that make you use your brain. As he said in his post you need to be well rounded in your preps, not dumping money all in one area of the bigger picture. I like your site by the way and I am now going to check out the free e book always love it when people pass on info that is free. God Bless from the hills of Wild and Wonderful West Virgina."


My Response: Thanks for the kind words about the blog. I've been pretty good so far about updating the content every day, so please check back often. And, as always, feel free to use our links if you should decide to make any preparedness purchases as we see a small commission on sales, or you can visit our own online store at http://www.backwoodsessentials.com/.

You'll enjoy the e-book but it's a long read; it was originally serialized on an old doomer internet forum and later compiled in one place as a PDF file. I suggest you save it to your computer so you can read it a few chapters at a time at your leisure. I compare it to Patriots written by Jim Rawles over at Survivalblog.com in that it contains a great deal of information useful to the preparedness-minded even though it is presented as a work of fiction.

And, I tend to really enjoy nitewalker's posts as well, as they are very insightful. Hope to hear from you again soon!
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Free E-Book: "Lights Out" by David Crawford

**UPDATED**: I recently received an email from a reader attempting to download the free e-book and unable to do so. A Google search yielded that the sites who hosted the file were asked to remove it by the author because he has published a print version and is shopping it to Hollywood feature film studios.

If you want to read this awesome novel, you may purchase it at the following links:

"Lights Out" by David Crawford or the less expensive Kindle edition .


Please read my review.
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Found another oldy but goody hiding in my favorites. Here is a freeware e-novel called "Lights Out" written by David Crawford (who goes by the internet handle "Halffast").

It details an America that is drastically changed by a terrorist EMP attack and how some folks in Texas make a go of it as a community. It's a pretty decent story, if you ask me, and who doesn't like free entertainment.

http://www.giltweasel.com/stuff/LightsOut-Current.pdf

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How To Make Soap

If you're one of the folks who thinks we're headed for a total collapse scenario where modern store-bought goods will be difficult to come by, here is an article you should print out and keep in a binder for future reference.

How To Make Soap