Friday, December 24, 2021

Happy Holidays

The year is winding down, winter is setting in (if it hasn't already for you), and a new year approaches. December holds dozens of different holidays for different groups; the list varies by how far you want to stretch the definition of “holiday”.

The Winter Solstice, when the tilt of the Earth gives the northern hemisphere the shortest day and longest night, was on December 21st this year. We recognize it as the first official day of winter and look forward to the lengthening hours of sunlight that lead to spring, but pagan and ancient cultures have noted the changing of the seasons for millennia as a way to keep track of time. The changing of the moon and length of daylight are easy to keep track of, so most early calendars are based on them. As an aside, quite a few religious holidays “wander” on the Gregorian (solar) calendar that is commonly used in Western countries because they were first recorded using lunar calendars, and the two systems don't match up perfectly.

Here in the United States, Christmas is the big holiday of the season but everybody celebrates things in their own way. Presents and parties, gathering with friends and family, and time off work are all common ways to celebrate the birth of the Christian Savior. Like most things in America, it has become commercialized and is used in marketing, but the “reason for the season” hasn't changed. Enjoy it in your own way. Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, Los Posadas, Omisoka, Bodhi Day, Krampusnacht, and about a dozen other holidays fall in the month of December. Look them up if you need another reason to celebrate something.

New Year's Eve, the time for getting out the new calendar and starting a new year, is fast approaching. Some cultures celebrate the new year as a time of rebirth and new opportunities, which makes sense from a practical standpoint: it's good to have a definitive starting and stopping point to things as it makes life a bit more predictable.

Celebrations are important to us as humans; we have a need to commemorate births and deaths, changes of seasons, “holy days” or holidays, and various other important dates. Doing so reminds us of what has gone before and shows us that there is a way forward. While it is fun to gather with friends and family, the important thing is that we have those friends and family. Remember those who have passed and celebrate the achievements of the young, give encouragement and comfort to each other, and be willing to accept it from those who love you. Even if the SHTF, we're still human and need to stay that way.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

PS: December is a busy month for everyone, so be kind to those you meet.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Holiday Special

Someone told me a big gift-giving holiday is coming up soon. I think they must have been confused? After all, Hanukkah is already over. 

However, in the spirit of giving, I put together a list of items that should fit under any prepper’s Menorah.

1. Speaking of candles, while one of these 120 Hour Emergency Candles may not last eight days, they come in a handy package that will, plus two. Days that is, not Grinches.

2. Hanukkah is the festival of lights, and even the best flashlight is pretty useless if the batteries are drained. I have a variety of flashlights that take Lithium 123 batteries, so I always try to keep some spares on hand.

3. While I’m not a fan of coffee, staying alert and active can make the difference in a survival situation. Scho-Ka-Cola comes in both milk and dark chocolate versions.

4. Keeping warm in the winter is a priority, and in the outdoors the best way to do that is with a fire. While there are many different ways to start a fire, sometimes it’s good to go with the classic Magnesium Fire Starter.

5. When needing to jot down a note, it’s good to know the pen will work no matter the weather conditions. This one comes with a sturdy cover/cap for a compact rugged package.

6. Of course, having a pen isn’t much use if there’s nothing to write on. A good all-weather pad takes care of that concern.

7. Winter won’t last forever, and when it’s over the bugs will return. Having a way to keep them off our face can be a great blessing. This Head Net goes over any hat and will keep most bugs at bay.

8. The holidays wouldn’t be the holidays without a nice pair of socks. While too heavy for summer use, these merino wool socks are comfortable, moisture wicking, and will keep your feet warm even when wet.

So there we are. A list appropriate in content as well as number!

No matter what you celebrate, may you all have a blessed holiday season.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Stocking Stuffers for Preppers

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.

By the time you read this, you have seven days until Christmas Eve, and some of you haven't yet finished your shopping. In spirit of Christmas, I shall offer you these prepping-themed gift ideas, good for stocking stuffers or Secret Santa exchanges. 

It's probably too late for things ordered by mail to arrive in time, but this is the season of miracles, after all!

Everyone needs a good flashlight! I recommend the 300 lumen mini Cree LED flashlight by UltraFire. It uses a single AA battery, is super-efficient, has a zoomable focus and at only 4 inches long it fits comfortably in pockets and purses. You can buy a pack of three for $14, which is less than $5 per flashlight.

Everyone also needs a good fixed blade knife. I’ve talked about Mora knives before, and they’re still the best-kept secret in the knife world. They’re amazingly ergonomic, don’t need sharpening out of the box, and come in a variety of colors including military green, tactical black and magenta. They range in price from $15 to $20 depending on which color you get.

Speaking of knives, sometimes they get dull. The Lansky Quadsharp is a great way to quickly sharpen dull knives, with 4 popular angles in one compact package for $17. Its sister, the C-sharp, is a ceramic honing tool in the same shape.

Worried about loved ones getting lost or succumbing to the elements? There’s a company called SOL for “Survive Outdoors Longer” and they make a panoply of  survival tools for use when you’re the other kind of SOL. A two-person survival blanket costs $16 and will keep them warm and dry, while the $19 Waterproof Scout Survival Kit holds a variety of useful gear, including a rescue whistle and signal mirror. 

Classics are timeless for a reason, and when it comes to classics that reason is because they're reliable and efficient. the one-liter wide-mouth Nalgene bottle ($13) is one of them, and another is a 20 oz  stainless steel cup ($14) which fits over the end of the Nalgene for nested storage.

If you're looking for stocking-sized stoves, then take your pick of either the Esbit ultralight folding pocket stove ($13) or the Redcamp mini alcohol stove with cooking stand ($16). FYI, the Esbit comes with fuel tabs, but the Redcamp does not come with alcohol.

Finally, I don't know if this is any good or not, but I saw it on sale for $10 and with over 17,000 reviews and a 5 star rating I figured it was worth a sawbuck. The Stanley Adventure Camp 24oz Kettle with 2 Cups seems like a useful piece of kit from a reliable name brand, and the price ($10) is certainly right.

Good hunting to all, and to all, a good prep!

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Charcoal, part 4: Production Resources

I mentioned at the end of my previous post that the research into production of charcoal turned into a massive rabbit hole. I got a few requests for examples and links, so here we go.

One of my sources for scientific topics is I'll warn you up front that this site has more information about most topics than you'll be able to digest: with scholarly papers, research findings, and various publications on a huge variety of subjects, this is a good place to find answers if you're willing to dig through the academic verbiage. I have a basic account which only took a few minutes to set up, and once you start researching a topic the site will send you notifications of papers on that subject for a while. They also send links to “related” topics, which causes the rabbit hole to branch off into other subjects. I was getting at least two new leads every day for two weeks after I started this one. Here are just a few:
If you visit any of those links, look to the right side of the page for related papers and documents. It is wonderful to have this much information available from the comfort of home instead of trying to track it down in a library.

Standard web searches turned up a few interesting sites, but there is a lot of plagiarism on the internet. Lazy click-bait articles that cut-and-paste the work of others without attribution (but lots of advertising) seem to be the majority of what you'll find through the “normal” search engines. There are, however, a few good sources out there.
  • The US Forest Service wrote up a primer 60 years ago. The subject is 30,000 years old, so this is still good information.
  • Mother Earth News has gone through several changes in management over the last 50 years, so theirinformation has to be viewed with reference to when it was published. They started off as a “back to nature” or “off grid” lifestyle magazine (the dating ads from the 1970's were fun to read) but have gone through phases where they put more emphasis on saving the planet than staying alive.
  • The United Nations has a lot of information available for developing countries, so they have a fairly good amount of data on charcoal. This article is a good example.
  • A quick-and-dirty approach to small batch production.
  • Sciencedirect is another scientific papers site, but it isn't as handy for me as Academia.

One of the hard parts about writing (or any other form of art) is being able to stop a project or piece when it is “good enough”. Endless editing and expansion results in no output, we have to know when to send it as it is and hope Erin can make it presentable. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

End Of The Year Giving

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping

I have several projects at work, and more at home, taking up my free time between last week and the 24th. Fortunately, I still have time to do a small amount of cleaning and setup on the equipment close to me.

Cupboard Cleanup
Yes, rotating out stored food before the expiration date is something I firmly believe in. I also make a point donating to my local Food Bank, both with my surplus food and with my money. The area food banks are specifically asking for money this year, due to the shortage of staff to sort and stack food and the fact that, due to distribution problems, they can leverage each dollar into two meals by dealing directly with farmers and manufacturers. My local food bank recommends these items:

Food Drive Shopping List
  • Natural Peanut Butter and Other Nut Butter
  • Canned Tuna and Chicken in Water
  • Beans and Lentils (dry or canned)
  • Rice and Pasta
  • Whole Grain Cereals
  • Low-Sodium Canned Vegetables
  • Canned Tomato Products
  • Hearty Low-Sodium Soups
  • Canned Fruit in Juice
  • Nonperishable Ready- to-Eat Meals (chili, ravioli, etc.)
  • Please, No Glass!

The idea is to donate the things you like and eat, as those things are most likely to be eaten buy those in need.

One other thing: yes, this list looks a little plain and boring, so donate the things that you grew up eating and continue to eat now. Don't forget spices! 

A favorite addition of mine is powdered sports drinks, in either ready-to-mix packets or larger tubs. These give the added benefit of hydration and, if giving the sugar-free versions, slowing tooth decay and other health problems. Another group of items I try to donate are vitamins, both in pills/capsules and chewable versions. I don't get fancy, just B, C and a multi. (Yes, I'm familiar with the studies on the utility of multi-vitamins, thanks, but they go in the bag anyway.)
Bag Tune-Ups 
There might be one or two people waiting to see what I'm doing with the "Less Than 20 lb Bag Challenge" besides the reader who asked the original question, but that exact, separate article is still a work in progress. What is happening is The Purple Pack is being used as a trial run, as 20 lbs is a significant portion of Purple Pack Lady's weight. If I can figure out a reasonable assortment of gear, food and emergency weather protection that she can easily hoist, I will have a respectable baseline for tailoring a bag for an adult living almost anywhere. Unfortunately, I do have the added complication of PPL having serious ideas on what needs to be in the bag and what colors things need to be. Who knew the Apocalypse needed to be color-coordinated? 
Recap and Takeaway
  • Things are tight for many people, but look around: there's not just the chronic homeless, but also those hit by serious storms that could use a little help. Thank you for doing what you are able.
  • Seriously, I'm having to find supplies in color now. Wish me luck!
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If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Prepper's Pantry: Chili & Corn Bread

I still haven’t made my mother’s turkey soup yet, mostly because we don’t have some of the ingredients on hand. Chili, however, is exactly the type of dish made with whatever is available, and that’s what I made over the weekend.

The history of chili is not as well-known as some other foods, partially because much of its development predates European contact and partially because of how widely divergent it’s become.

Don’t believe me? Ask a Mexican, a Texan, and an Arizonan what goes into a good chili; the answers will be quite varied, and if they're all in the same room, it may become quite heated as well. The debate over "beans versus no beans" has gotten physical at times.

What we do know, or at least believe, is that chili originated in South and Central America as a hotpot type dish made with whatever ingredients could be found.

The recipe that follows is of that type. We went through the cupboards, cabinets, and pantry and added items to the crockpot if we thought they would be a good fit. Some of the quantities are estimates, and some of them (such as the black beans) seem odd because they were leftovers from other dishes. I honestly don’t know what type of hot peppers we used in this batch; they were in the back of the freezer from earlier this year, or possibly even last year. We used ground beef, because we had some in the freezer, but pretty much any type of meat, or none at all, can be used.

Safety Note: When working with hot peppers, wear gloves or wash your hands very thoroughly before touching your face or any other part of your body.

Without further ado, the recipe for our most recent batch of chili:

A piping hot bowl of chili over rice



  • 1 lb ground beef (browned)
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 12oz can dark red kidney beans
  • 3oz black beans
  • 1 package freeze dried corn
  • 2 small onions (diced)
  • 1 green pepper (diced)
  • 2 Tbs crushed garlic (minimum/to taste)
  • Hot peppers to taste (diced)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • Grated carrots (optional)
  • Some water


  1. Brown the meat and reserve the fat and juices.
  2. Sautee the onions, peppers, and garlic in the reserved fat and juices from browning the beef.
  3. Put the tomatoes and chili powder in the bottom of an appropriately sized crock pot and set to high. Stir well.
  4. After the tomatoes are warm, add the sautéed vegetables, beans, corn, and hot peppers. Stir well some more.
  5. Mix in the browned meat and a cup or so of water. Amount of water will depend on preferred consistency.
  6. Let cook in the crock pot six or more hours to blend the flavors. Taste occasionally and adjust spices as desired.
  7. If needed, mix in some shredded carrots to sweeten or soften the spices and/or bitterness.
  8. Serve over rice.

In addition to rice, we often like cornbread with our chili. It’s traditional and just tastes good. While we usually make a batch from Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix for convenience, when we have time we’ll use the recipe from the back of the corn meal package.

Corn bread fresh from the oven

Corn Bread

  • 1 cup corn meal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tbs sugar (I often substitute honey)
  • 1 tsp salt (I scant this measurement)
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbs oil (most any vegetable oil)
  • 1 ¼ cups milk


  1. Mix dry ingredients together
  2. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, milk, and oil together
  3. Add to dry ingredients and mix
  4. Pour into greased muffin, corn stick, or 8-inch square baking pan
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until done in a pre-heated 425°F oven
  6. Makes about 12 servings
For this batch, I poured the batter into mini muffin tins.

Of all the dishes we make, chili may be the most creative as there aren’t any hard and fast rules. If you haven’t made chili (and you like to eat it, of course) give it a try and don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong. Chili is the Jazz of cooking.


Friday, December 10, 2021

The Lunatec Aquabot

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.

I wasn't sure what I'd talk about today, and then the Lunatec Aquabot arrived in the mail. The Aquabot is a lid which fits on most wide-mouth Nalgene bottles, turning them into a pressurized water sprayer.

The Aquabot has three settings:
  1. Mist, which is good for keeping cool in the heat. 
  2. Stream, which directs a sturdy jet of water that is capable of cleaning food off of cooking utensils. You can also spray water into your mouth with this setting, allowing you to drink from the bottle without having to remove the Aquabot lid. 
  3. Shower, which is like Stream but has 3 separate jets to cover a wider area, and is best for cleaning body parts. 
I keep coming up with uses for settings 2 and 3 the more I think about it: wound irrigation, washing food before cooking, washing your hands before eating, portable outdoor bidet, etc. The lack of water pressure is a big inconvenience when outdoors, and this dandy device solves that problem handily.


You can buy the Lunatec Aquabot on Amazon for $27, where it comes with a 750 mL Nalgene bottle. There is also a 3 foot long Tube Extension ($15) which allows you to direct the water while the bottle is on the ground, in a backpack, etc.

I don't yet know how sturdy mine is having just received it, but apparently the Aquabot has been around since 2017 and I can find only good things said about it, which tells me it's probably reliable. If you have experience with the Aquabot, please tell me about it in the comments below. 

I'm looking forward to testing this the next time I go camping. If it's as good as I think it is, then that'll be money well spent. 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Charcoal, part 3: Production

Charcoal has only a minor market presence in modern America, where we have abundant electricity and petroleum for our heating and cooking needs, but it is a staple in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. There are some restaurants that prefer to cook over charcoal due to the even heating and lack of smoke, so there may be a market in your area if you're looking for barter opportunities. When TSHTF, we may find ourselves without access to pipelines and powerlines to keep our families warm and fed, so I feel it's a good idea to look into alternatives. 

Making charcoal isn't hard; you're basically slow-cooking some organic form of carbon, usually wood, to drive off the water and volatile chemicals. Humans have been making charcoal for use as a fuel for 30,000 years, so it predates agriculture by quite a bit. If an uncivilized, nomadic, tribesman can figure it out it shouldn't be too difficult for us.

If you're starting with wood, this is the first step in "wood gasification", a method of producing a flammable gas (mostly carbon monoxide) that is suitable for fueling internal and external combustion engines (people have run cars on wood gas when petroleum was unavailable or too expensive) or burning in lamps. The houses of a century ago had gas lamps on the walls and "manufactured gas" was piped in as a city utility. Manufactured gas, made from coal, wood or oil, was more dangerous than methane as the carbon monoxide content was high enough to cause poisoning if a lamp or valve failed.* The low pressure that the gas was delivered at caused already-lit lamps to dim if another one was turned on; this was the basis for a play and movie that gives us the term "gaslighting" for psychological manipulation of people.
*Now you know why we call the methane extracted from underground and piped to our houses "natural gas". 
Wood that contains a large portion of resin can also produce a variety of useful byproducts like pine tar that are used in other industries. Methanol, sometimes called "wood alcohol", can be distilled out of the vapors and has several chemical uses; in fact, it was one of the first forms of antifreeze used in cars. Capturing the vapors and condensing out the useful compounds is a bit more involved than most of us want to get, but the option is there.

Charcoal production is simple, but very time-consuming and labor intensive. Depending on the size of the operation and techniques used, a batch of charcoal will take between 1 and 20 days to produce. That's a long time to babysit what is essentially a smoldering fire, but it is not a process you can start and walk away from. You'll need a supply of wood or other high-carbon feedstock (corncobs, coal, and bones work well), an air-tight container referred to as a "retort", a way to control the air going into the retort, and a source of heat. If you've ever used a flint and steel to start a fire you may have seen charcloth used to catch the sparks. Charcloth is the result of making charcoal out of cotton cloth, and I'll us that as a demonstration since it can be done on a small scale.
  1. Start with a clean, empty paint can with a lid. 
  2. Loosely place a good pile of pure cotton cloth scraps (any size or shape works because you can cut it easily later) into the can and place the lid on tightly. 
  3. Using a nail or small punch, make a small hole in the lid to let the air and vapors out. 
  4. Place the closed can on or near a small fire, watching the color of the vapors that come out of the hole in the lid. Slow gentle heat is best, as you don't want to create so much pressure inside the can that it pops the lid off. 
  5. The first phase will be drying the feedstock and the vapors will be mostly water vapor (steam) so it should be whitish in color and won't burn. 
  6. Once the water has been driven out, the plume of vapors will change color or lose its color. This is the stage where volatile chemical are being released from the cloth and these vapors will burn if a flame touches them. I've seen people intentionally light the plume of vapors at this stage as a way to tell when the process is done;  the flame will go out once all of the volatiles are driven off. 
  7. When the plume of vapors stops coming out of the hole, the hole in the lid is closed off with a dab of mud or clay and the can is removed from the heat and left to cool. 
  8. Your charcloth is ready to add to your firebox after it cools. Opening the can while it is still hot will let oxygen in and cause a flash fire, reducing your charcloth to ashes and probably making you change your underwear.
Production of charcoal uses the same steps, just on a larger scale. 
  1. Simple kilns are no more than stacked firewood that is covered with straw and mud, leaving an opening at the base for lighting and a chimney to let the vapors out. 
  2. The burning of a portion of the stacked wood provides the heat to convert the rest into charcoal, the mud forms an air-tight enclosure, and the two holes are used to control the airflow through the pile. 
  3. The size of the pile of wood determines how long the process will take; it will be measured in days, and someone will have to keep an eye on it the whole time to adjust airflow, monitor the vapor plume, and repair any cracks in the mud shell that will occur as it heats and dries. Unless you can stay awake for days, plan on having a team to get best results. 
  4. Once the process is complete, both holes are sealed up to quench the fire and the pile is left to cool for a few days. 
  5. After everything has cooled down enough to work with, you'll break away the baked mud shell and harvest the charcoal. Any wood that didn't get completely converted gets set aside for the next batch.
More modern kilns are made of metal or brick and have better methods of controlling the airflow, and loading and unloading is much easier and cleaner. Most commercial operations will have multiple kilns running at different stages to make production more steady, loading one while others are burning, still others are cooling, and one is being unloaded. 

This post turned into the biggest rabbit hole I've encountered in the almost eight years I've been writing for this blog. The amount of information available on charcoal production is mind boggling, from ancient methods and archeological research to modern methods being developed for impoverished areas, efficiency of internal heat versus external heat, yields from various types of wood or other organic matter, then branching off into bio-char production for improving cropland and that leads off into other fields of research.

If you're interested in more detailed information, let me know and I'll cover some of the more readable sources I found.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

I've Been Santa'd

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping.

Santa came early this year, or at least with one present. What is it?

A Pouch
Yes, that's not very descriptive, but this pouch is different than others I've seen since it's only a pouch when you need it. Before that, it's sort of not-a-pouch. See:

(left) Galaxy S9 case; (right) belt pouch 

That's what it looks like folded and ready to use. As you can see, when worn on a belt it is about 50% the width of a cellphone case and only marginally thicker. Opened and unfolded, it is surprisingly big!

Unfolds into a waxed canvas dump sack 
It can easily hold 500 rounds of .22LR (here is ~300) and/or a box of 12ga. shells without difficulty. The drawstring will close the top well enough to keep 12ga shells inside, but the occasional 22LR might sneak out if the pouch was vigorously shaken.

Approx. 300 .22LR

 When I told a backyard farming friend about this I was asked "Will it hold a dozen eggs?" and my answer was, "Maybe, but you will have to try it with your OWN pouch!" I'm not willing to sacrifice this cool gift in the name of Science.

(Editrix's Note: This pouch appears to have been a one-off special through Creek Stewart; one was included in the December 2020 Apocabox and I bought more the following month when the inventory was liquidated. 

You can find a similar belt pouch, albeit for a lot more than I bought mine, at Amazon.)
 Recap And Takeaway
  • This dump pouch is going into my BOB tote, for later attachment either to my belt or onto webbing. It will depend on exactly how things fit.
  • Nothing was purchased this week, but I am very thankful for family, especially the family I've chosen, and those that have chosen me.
 Seriously folks, think about using the link listed below, it helps keep this page running.
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Just a reminder: if you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running!

If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Prepper’s Pantry: Soups and Stews

With Thanksgiving having just passed and the winter holidays approaching, the general desire for a nice big bowl of steaming hot soup or stew seems to increase, especially in the colder regions. Soups and stews have traditionally been an excellent way to make use of leftovers and scraps. They permeate nearly every culture, with Mulligan Stew and Stone Soup coming from folklore. 

We have a variety of recipes in my family, including several types of chicken soup, chili (with beans), beef stew, black bean soup, barely and lamb stew, Hungarian goulash, and corn chowder, but this time of year is when a specific memory rises to the top. When I was small, part of the family post-Thanksgiving tradition was my mother making a big pot of turkey soup from Thanksgiving leftovers, I’ve tried to do the same ever since I moved out on my own.

What follows is the recipe pretty much as my mother gave it to me, including her notes. It’s really more of a stew than a soup, being almost thick enough to eat with a fork due to the barley, but tradition means we call it a soup. 

I usually serve my soup with fresh made biscuits, using White Lily self-rising flour if you can find it, or King Arthur flour if you can’t.

White Lily Light & Fluffy Biscuits


  • 2 cups White Lily Self-Rising Flour
  • ¼ cup Crisco shortening or 1 stick butter - softened
  • ¾ cup buttermilk or 2/3 cup milk


  1. Place flour in a large bowl. Cut in shortening (or butter) with pastry blender or two knives until crumbs are the size of peas.
  2. Add buttermilk, stirring with fork just until flour is moistened.
  3. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.
  4. Knead gently 5 to 6 times, just until smooth.
  5. Roll dough into a 7-inch circle that is ¾ to 1 inch thick.
  6. Cut out 7-8 biscuits using a floured 2 inch biscuit cutter.
  7. Place on baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.
  8. Shape dough scraps into a ball, pat out until ¾ inch thick, cut out additional biscuits.
  9. Bake at 475 degrees Fahrenheit 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Mom’s Turkey Soup


  • 1 meaty turkey carcass
  • 1 bunch of celery (use the leaves too)
  • 1-1½ lbs carrots, cut in half lengthwise and into 1” slices
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 lb Parsnips, ½” rounds
  • 6 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups chopped dill (separated) {the secret ingredient}
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 10 cups water
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 cup barley {the other secret ingredient}


  1. Place turkey carcass and any additional turkey, celery, carrots, onions, parsnips, garlic, 1-cup dill, parsley, salt, pepper, and water in a large pot over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Simmer for three hours.  Skim foam off the soup as it cooks.
  2. After three hours, remove carcass, cool and shred all of the meat.
  3. Return the meat to the pot and add the tomatoes and the barley.  Simmer for an additional 40 minutes.  Add the remaining 1-cup dill and serve piping hot.  Leftovers can be frozen.

I hope this recipe brings warmth to you, our readers and their families, both inside and out.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Predator? or Prey?

In nature, most animals can be classified as predators, prey, scavengers, or parasite. People tend to exhibit some of the same behaviors of these four classes, with the addition of a fifth into which most preppers will fit. 

Social scientists call the human predators “Type A” personalities, but I prefer a different, more colorful term that starts with the letter “A”.

Predators are always on the hunt, looking for prey. They tend to travel in packs, but the solitary ones can be just as dangerous. Some are loud and bold, others stealthy and quiet, but they're always looking for the next “meal”. 

Predators see all others as either competition or food; they don't have many other options available. Competition for “hunting grounds” between humans takes the form of politics on all levels, and often causes problems for anyone else that happens to be in the area. 

Predation comes in many forms in humans. Power over others is a common goal, money, fame, glory, and sexual gratification are a few other common goals of human predators. Predators will take what they want until they are stopped, and that is usually a terminal stop. You're not going to reason with a pack of wolves; you'll need to kill a few to get the message across. Some in the prepper community espouse the “warlord” theory, where they'll just take whatever they need when TSHTF, and these are predators.

Mainly herbivores that reproduce quickly and reach maturity at an early age, prey are generally quieter and more numerous than predators. Rabbits, mice, and deer are good examples of prey animals. 

In people, prey tend to be the ones that are unable to take care of themselves, so they're often under the control of someone else.  Children fall into this category through no fault of their own, but a good chunk of the population never advances beyond it. Prey are easy targets when alone, but in large groups they can often take down a predator since quantity has a quality of its own.

Scavengers are those that live on the fringes and take what they can find. In nature they are the garbage collectors that prevent carcasses from piling up; in humans they tend to be thieves, wanderers, and the homeless. 

I run into an ethical conflict on thieves: my faith tells me to not judge others, but also that stealing is wrong, so I give them the benefit of the doubt until they try to mess with my stuff. 

Wanderers are treated as guests until they decide to move on. The homeless are a mixed lot; some belong in an institution since they can't take care of themselves, but others are destitute due to circumstances beyond their control. As preppers, we can learn a lot about surviving without all of our normal conveniences by studying the scavengers.

Parasites live off of the body of a host. They don't do anything beneficial to the host (that would be a symbiotic relationship), but instead just suck the nutrients and energy that they need from the body of the host. In nature we see the various parasites that we use water filters to remove as well as the fleas, ticks, and lice that we control with proper hygiene and sanitation. 

Human parasites are those that are all take and no give, with a few classes that have figured out that they can give back 10% of what they take in order to prolong their feeding. 

Dealing with human parasites is a harder concept, since we should have some compassion for a fellow human being. Set up “filters” to prevent parasites from entering your life, just like you'd filter water in the woods before drinking it. Removing a human parasite from your life is not easy, especially if there is a family connection, but it is necessary for your continued mental and physical health. Reclaiming your time, money, and emotional energy gives you your life back.

None of the Above
There is a fifth category that lacks a good name because it has few counterparts in animals. Neither predator nor prey, nor parasite nor scavenger, this type just wants to be left alone to live their life and has the ability to fight back if needed. They don't act like predators, but will have similar forms of weapons. The American Bison, African rhino, bees, and most of the larger primates fall into this category; they don't exclusively hunt for food and will fight back if threatened. They protect their own and are best left alone. 

In humans, the best current representation I can find is the libertarian movement: no first use of aggression, trade instead of taking, and respect for others are all good goals. However, these goals make for lousy politics since they are anathema to both predators and parasites  -- which covers most politicians at any level.

One of the ways I've heard this philosophy described is, “we just want to be left alone, or else”. Historically, groups that want to be left alone have had to deal with invasion and attack from nearby predators with varying levels of success. Before WW1, the USA was in this class for the most part, but that ended rather abruptly.

I work towards the fifth category, neither predator nor prey. I try to be as self-sufficient as possible with the ability to work with those around me to tackle the projects that I don't have the time, tools, energy, or materials to do alone. I react poorly to predators and parasites, having dealt with too many over the years.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Storage War

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping

Yes, I did say this would be my GHB post. As per usual, my life got in the way.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, the Purple Pack Lady and I needed to find a place to keep our excess goods in a relative short period of time -- it was less than a week to have everything situated and moved. Since I didn't have extra space, and frankly I've extra totes of my less-accessed stuff piled up in a corner as it is, the decision was made to rent a locker for us to share. This was a very hard decision for me to make; I've watched those shows of people that can't get around their houses due to too much actual junk, and the one where the rent isn't paid on storage lockers and everything goes up for auction*. In both cases, most of the goods are of very little value.

*It seems that in at least one of those shows, lockers were 'staged' to make everything more interesting.

What's Needed
I have to add that I'm not looking at this as a place to keep the majority of my prepping stores, since a disaster could prevent me from reaching the locker. I am however looking at it as a place for my secondary and extra supplies. 

I don't have massive amounts of items to store, and most of what I need to put into the locker are things that I know will be weeded out and sold once a place is found to take everything. The PPL is close to thinking this way also, but not necessarily 100%. She has her valuable items and thinks there may be a need for a locker much longer than I want (or need) one. That's not my call to make, though,  and I'm okay with that. 

Where Is It?
As the Real Estate folks say, "Location, Location, Location." I'm in Northern California and, while the fires are in the news lately, earthquakes are what will really wreck this state. That's why I started the hunt for places easy to get to, with easy access to the locker, secure and with reasonable rates. 

A place was found close to a major freeway and almost on the way home for both of us. It isn't so close that it might be on the "First To Loot List" if things go bad in a hurry, but not so far away that it's a problem if freeways are damaged. The complex is relatively new with paved access roads and an on-site manager for security. With the management there 24/7, access could be a little later in the evening in my opinion, but that's a minor issue. 

The rates are not necessarily the lowest, but for the location and and condition of the site and facilities, the price is in line with other, similar setups.

Moving everything is a chore, since both of us have sedans. Even with me downsizing to mostly 17 gallon totes (for ease of moving things by PPL), I can only get 2 in the back seat of my car at a time. Her car is much newer and my totes "aren't allowed". The majority is now moved, and my final batch of tools and totes will be out of the closet and corners this weekend.

Recap And Takeaway
  • Nothing was purchased this week, prepping-wise, but Christmas gifts are going out very soon!
  • The Value-to-Cost-of-Storage needs to be calculated carefully. I read all the time on Social Media sites of folks paying hundreds of dollars every month, for years, to store things that they've never looked through since putting it in storage. Don't be Those Folks. I will not be in that position.
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