Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Five Preps for Five Dollars or Less

     One of the biggest issues that I have found with being a new prepper, is that as you prep, you have to spend money to do it. Some things you have to weight the money against the potential usefulness of an item. Other things, like tents, you can justify the cost because you don't have to wait for SHTF before you can use it, instead you can go on a camping trip.

     Then you have those items out there that arn't really so expensive, and that helps makes things better. If you can put together smaller things to make larger things, you don't feel the impact as much of putting together your cashe of survival supplies.

     In the spirit of spending less to get more, I present to you all five preps for five dollars.

1) Five gallons of water.
     In many grocery stores you can find gallon jugs of water. In my experience whenever I have come across them, they alway cost somewhere in the ninty cents range. This means that you can buy five gallons of sealed, purified water, that is just sitting ready to be stored in your survival cache.

2) Soap
     A good hygeine product to have extra of, even if s*** doesn't hit the fan. I was able to find a ten pack of soap for four and half dollars at my local store. Look for your favorite soap brand, and see if you can find some value packs to get more bang for your buck.

3) Bic Lighters
     They're small and they're cheap. If it gets lost or broken it isn't a big deal because you can generally pick one up for somewhere around a dollar. Want to buy in bulk? You can do that too. You can find them in packs of two, four, or even six. Generally all of these options will still fall in our five dollar range.

4) Five Packages of Idahoan Mashed Potatoes
     One package of these potatoes is just a dollar so on a budget of five dollars that means you can still get a good bit of food to add to your prepper pantry. They come in a variety of flavors and to make them you just have to add water. They are a great option when you are trying to start stocking food.

5) A Bottle of Asprin
     There is a number of different medicines to have in a first aid kit and asprin is one of them. Don't think you can find a bottle of asprin for five dollars or under? Don't look for the brand names. Look for the store brand asprin instead. It's the same thing and it will be cheaper, meaning you can find a bottle of aspirin for five dollars or less.

     So there we are, five preps for five dollars or less. I love seeing cheap preps like these because they remind me that I don't have to spend tons of money trying to prep, and I can still reach my goals. Do any of you out there have five dollar preps? Post them in the comments. I'd love to here everyone's ideas.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Making Hardtack

     So I have been working on doing prepping and storing food. However I also think that it is a good idea to be able to make my own food as well. So I was looking for something fairly easy to make which would also last a long time. The first thing that came to mind was hardtack.

     Hardtack is basically a very simple cracker, and the best thing about it, is that hardtack can last seemingly indefinatly. In fact there are even real examples of hard tack in museums that were actually made in the period that the display is about.

     So I decided to go about making hardtack. I have found a few different recipes for hardtack, and since this is my first time making hardtack I decided to start with the very basic easiest version of hardtack out there. I have it down at the end of the post for you all as well.

     For the basic recipe you need only three things. Flour, water and salt. Sounds easy enough right? It is. First you set the oven to preheat, and then you mix all three ingredients together in the bowl. I started using a spoon, and then just switched over to my hands because it was just so much easier. For this recipe I found that the batter seemed a little dry. It had a crumbly lumpy thing going on, and it didn't all want to stick together so I added a little bit extra water so it would all come together.

     Then I floured down my working surface, and promptly started rolling out the dough. The recipe said that it was supposed to be rolled out thing, but it doesn't say exactly how much thin is. So I rolled it down to maybe a quarter inch or less, but not super thin either. From pictures I have seen of hardtack they all seem to be pretty thick crackers so I didn't want to make them too thin.

     After that I cut up the dough into peices. I kept them all basically rectangular in shape, cutting off the lumpy edges, simply for asthetics. I rolled the extra dough out again and then cut the extra into squares as well. I just used a plain knife to cut it up, though a pizza cutter would work really well for that.

     Then using a fork I stabbed the dough a bunch of times to poke holes in it, and I did this on both sides of the dough as well. I am pretty sure this is just so that you don't get any large bubbles in the crackers, like the ones you see sometimes on pizza crust.

     After that the peices of dough went on a pan, and into the oven for ten minutes. After ten minutes, I let the crackers bake a little longer to tweleve minutes, because they still seemed kinda doughy. In hindsight, that may just be because I didn't roll the dough out thin enough.

     At this point the tray came out of the oven, and I took off one piece of hardtack to try. This recipe itself was, as I expected, really quite bland. Similar to a low or no sodium saltine, except more dense. After a bite or two, I put some jam on top, because I had heard it recommened as a way to eat hardtack. With the jam on top it was really quite good. The hardtack provided a good base for the jam, and was bland enough that you really got the flavor of the jam, without there being too much in the background. At the same time the hardtack had enough flavor and substance that you didn't feel like you were just eating jam by itself either.

    Next the oven temperature got lowered to 250F, and I put the tray back in for a second bake. What is a second bake? Exactly what it sounds like. You lower the temperature and put the hardtack back into the oven for a longer period of time, and it acts very much like a dehydrator. The poit of the second bake is to take out as much water from the hardtack as possible, therefore allowing it to last longer.

     I did mine for the recommended 30 minutes that the recipe said. I didn't have time to do it any longer than that, but looking at the hardtack, it still didn't seem that hard, and when I finished I thought that the hardtack could have probebly been in there a little longer.

     I let the hardtack cool, and then put it in plastic bags. I am going to add the first batch of hardtack to my prepping supplies, and we'll see how long it lasts. I'll post updates on how long it seems to stay good. Periodically I may open up a bag to try out the hardtack as well, and see if the taste has changed onced the hardtack has cooled and sat for a while.

     Next time I am going to try a different hardtack recipe, called Swedish Hardtack, that involves two more ingredients: honey and vegetable oil. I think it will be a more appealing version of hardtack, because it will have a little more flavor.

Basic Hardtack
-3c flour
-1 c water
-1 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 400F. Mix ingredients together in a bowl to create a workable dough, and form a ball.
On a floured surface flatten the dough and roll out thinly.
Cut into squares and peirce each peice with a fork a couple of times. Transfer on a greased baking sheet.
Bake 10 - 12 minutes.
To second bake the crackers turn oven down to 250F and bake for another half hour.

     If anyone out there gives this recipe a try let me know!  Love to hear about your results.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Compass Basics

     This weekend I had a bit of an adventure. I signed up to do a winter survival class. It sounded great, and I was very excited. I had found the program in a community news letter and it was a class they were holding at one of the local nature centers. Always trying to learn new skills, I signed up right away, excited to hopefully learn something new.

     I went to the class this weekend and found myself in for a little bit of a surprise. Now I knew that this class was only supposed to be an hour and a half long, so I figured it would be covering the very very basics for winter survival, and that much I found to be pretty true. What I didn't expect was to find myself the only adult signed up for this class, along with a large group of seven to eight year olds.

     Yup. It was a kids class. This of course wasn't mentioned in the description of the class in the newsletter, and the nice lady at the reservation desk was probebly getting a good kick out of the fact that I was signing up for a class with a bunch of little kids. So thats where I found myself. Sitting in a chair in a room at the nature center, with a horde of kids on all sides. Never the less, to my suprise I actually learned a bit while I was there. That just goes to show that you can get new information from tons of different places out there.

     The instructor for the class did a good job covering all the basics for us, talking about how to dress for winter conditions, and what kinds of basic equipment that could be brought along for something like a day hike. The class also covered the basics of making a fire and making a shelter. We then of course got to try to make a quick debris hut out in the woods, and by we, I mean the kids, while I stood back to avoid the flailing limbs and flying tree branches. It did turn out remarkably well though, all things considering.

     The one thing that I found in that class to be the most useful, and which I actually knew nothing about was a quick introduction to orienteering. We got taught how to read a compass. Now if someone told you to try and find a direction and get somewhere using just a compass, could you do it? Perhaps you could, and perhaps you couldn't. In my case, I am girl, and therefore I got to go to Girl Scouts, not Boy Scouts. Where the Boy Scouts got to learn all about camping and compasses, I got cookies. So could I read a compass?

     I quickly learned that the answer is no. I couldn't read a compass at all. However I thought I knew the concept. There is an arrow, and it points in a direction. It seems simple. However, it is very likely before this class that I would have always been following where the little arrow pointed, which depending on what side of the arrow I would follow, which would be either North or South. So I would only, of course, get myself very lost.

     The very first thing we learned was what we needed the right kind of compass. A complete compass. Before this I have always thought of a compass as a round object only. It has a big N and an arrow that wobbles around, and you can find North with it, and figure out where you are going. Well, a complete comapss is a bit more complicated and looks like this:

     So how do you use it? It is actually not too hard, especially once you get the hang of it. First, on the plastic part the extends above the circular compass part, you have an arrow. This is known as the orienteering arrow. So you hold the compass flat, at belly button height with the arrow point out in front of you.

     Next you have the actual compass. The ouside ring, which has all the numbers and degrees on it, is a dial, so you can change which number is is centered at the top. A small mark under the dial, marks where forward is for you as well. Then there is a red arrow in the plastic, which is underneath the floating red and white arrow.

     So what you do is you hold compass flat, and you choose which way you want to go. Say East. What you do is you turn the dial so that the E on you dial aligns with the mark at the top of the circle, and as a result the orienteering arrow as well. Then you are going to turn your body till the red side of the floating arrow, lines up with the red arrow on the plastic underneath.

     Once you hae done this, you are facing East. If you want to in a heading of 140 degrees, you then turn your dial so the 140 degrees lines up with the top mark, and then again turn you body so that the two red arrows line up. Thats it.

     It is a very simple concept, and it is easy to preform once you know what your doing. Not only that, it is a great skill to have. It is certainly one I am glad that I learned, which is why I have shared it all with you, and why I am going to be putting a compass in my BOB as well.

     So I learned two very important lessons this weekend.  First was how to use a compass, and the second was that information can be found and learned in the most unlikely and unexpected of places.  Including  community kids programs.

     The community will be holding a program on how maple sugar is made next month.  I am sure there will be a large group of little kids at the program, which will be designed for little kids.  I'm going to sign up for it this week.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Creating an Emergency Plan

     As I have begun the process of creating my bug out bag, and learning the skills that will be important when SHTF, I have quickly come to realize that one of the most important things that I will need is a plan. Specifically a plan for what I am going to do when SHTF.

     Now thinking about it, depending on the different types of disasters that could take place, I may need to either bug in or bug out. In the event of something like a chemical attack, it might be better to lock down and seal my place of residence, rather than go out into a potentially dangerous enviroment, especially if there is no reliable information on what is out there and where it is. However, in the event of something like civil disorder, it might be a better idea to bug out, before it escalates.

     The result is that I am now working on two different plans of actions in the event of a disaster. The first one bugging in, doesn't require any travel. So the basics that need to be covered for a bug in plan are water, food, heating, and defense. In this case I have already started planning food and water. A first emergency cache will be created for my bug out bag and then expanded so I have more available for a long term situtation that requires bugging in.

     Since I live with other people, my long term survival plan should include the basics for these people too, as well as a few extra in the event that others end up in the situation with us as well. Now what I would love to have is the enough food and water for upwards of eight to ten people, for a year. Now, that is not going to happen. I just don't have the space for it. Threfore, I am going to look into the possibility of some kind of rainwater collection system. Living in a wetter area of the country this shouldn't be too much of a problem.

     Just like water, I again don't have too much room for food storage either. This is what comes of living in a small space. Using different preservation techniques such as drying food may be able to compact food down a little to allow more of it to be stored, but again, that will only go so far. In the event of a very long term disaster, lasting a year or longer, having a good vegetable garden will help a long way with having food available. I plan to start my first attempt at growing food this year as it gets warmer. What I will be doing this year will not be on nearly a large enough scale to feed myself much less others should disaster strike, but it will be a start.

     As for defense, I find myself basically at a lost. I have shot a gun once. That is it. My abilities and knowledge in this subject is just about nothing. It is something I would like to learn, but for me I am certain that it will take a while, because I want to make sure everything is safe as I learn as well. There's no point to getting a gun to defend myself for when SHTF if at best I don't know how to use it, and at worst, I hurt or kill myself when I try. What I can try to learn here in the immediate future is forms of self defense, as well as some other primitive weapons, such as an atlatl or bow and arrow, which may be a little more intuitive for me to handle, and easier for me to obtain or make.

     The bug in plan can act as a basis for my bug out plan. The bug out bag is going to be the center of my bug out plan. It will have enough to last me hopefully two weeks of travel. This will give me time to get to a bug out location. Which brings me to the first thing needed for a bug out plan. I do not have a bug out location in mind, and I do not have the money to buy an area of land, much as I would like one, for a bug out location. Therefore I have decided that figuring out wilderness areas, away from population centers is my best bet. A wilderness location would give me the ability to hunt and gather and create a shelter, either temporary or permanent, with it being less likely to run into others that may be hostile.

     The second thing there is to consider is transportation. How would I get to a bug out location in the first place. As far as I can see, there are three different options. The first is by bug out vehicle. Because I only own one car, that is going to be it. As bug out vehicles go, its not remodeled school buses seen in last weeks episode of Doomsday Preppers, but I certainly think it has the possibility of holding up better than some.
The good thing about my car is that it it is an old car, so it has a steel body. So if you hit it with something (like another car) the other thing breaks and not my car. Which is nice. The bad thing is that it has rear wheel drive, and it is old, and therefore it is more likely to break, and harder to fix when it does. Still, I plan to outift it as a bug out vehicle deserves, and incorporate it into my plans.

     However in the event that the bug out vehicle breaks, or it is not fesible to use, then I have two other modes of transporation that I can include in my plan. The first is a bike. It doesn't go as fast as a car, but it still gives you decent speed, and because of its shape and size it is easy to move around, and easy to move around when riding it. The downside to a bicycle is that it limits what you can carry with you. The amount of items can be increased if you add a bicycle trailer, but that also decreased mobility.

     After a bug out vehicle and a bug out bike, the last mode of transportation I would include for bug out plans is walking. All you need for that is your own two legs. Again this form of travel limits how much stuff you can take with you. It can also be limited by disabilities and fitness ability. Neither is a problem for myself, but as I mentioned in my last post, I am working on increasing my physical fitness ability.

     The bug out location and the form of travel are the two most important parts of a bug out plan, and the bug in plan can take over once you make it to the bug out location. Vice versa, the bug out plan can be used in the event that a bug in plan is compromised and you have to leave your location. Though I have not shared details, to make sure not to compromise the security of my plans (and because all the details haven't been hashed out yet), I have given you the basics of what I think I need for a good but out and bug in plan.

     I am always looking to become a better prepper and survivalist, so what about everyone else? What kinds of plans do you all have out there? Are there things that I missed? Are there things that you think are more important or less important in an emergency plan? Are there things that I should start learning, preparing for, and implementing into my emergency plans first?  Let me know.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Survival Fitness

     So during my search for infomation to collect and learn, there is one aspect of survival that I see every once in a while, but not as often as I would expect.  Fitness.

     Fitness is one of the key aspects of survival.  If your not in good shape it will make survival that much harder, and so that is why I have decided to start a fitness routine.  This way should I find myself in a situation where I need to survival I will be better able to physically cope wiith anything that I need to.

     In trying to develop a routine I had to take into account a few things.  One is my fitness level.  It's not awful.  I am not overweight and I don't have any physical injuries or disabilities.  This is a good start.  However, I am not in shape.  I don't do tons of physical activity by means.  I drive to work, because it is too far away to walk to, and once I am at work, I sit, for anywhere between seven and ten hours.  All that sitting is one of the reasons why I want to create a physical fitness regimen, because I feel so lazy. 

      Another thing I have to take into account is weather.  It is January and it is cold out!  I don't paticularily like the cold, so what ever routine I will be doing is going to be inside.  On that token however I do not own any workout machines or equipment and I don't intend on buying any.  The result is that I have decided to go with a body weight only fitness routine that ramps up the intensity overtime so I can get better in shape as I go, without hurting myself by trying to go too hard in the beginning.

So here is the routine:

Day 1
Day 2

Day 3
Level 1
max rounds in 20 min
1 sit-ups
2 push-ups
3 squats
5 rounds for time
2 sit-ups
6 push-ups
10 squats
for time
10 sit-ups
21 push-ups
21 squats
Level 2
max rounds in 20 min
1 sit-ups
3 push-ups
4 squats
5 rounds for time
3 sit-ups
8 push-ups
13 squats
for time
13 sit-ups
26 push-ups
26 squats
Level 3
max rounds in 20 min
2 sit-ups
3 push-ups
5 squats
5 rounds for time
3 sit-ups
10 push-ups
16 squats
for time
16 sit-ups
33 push-ups
33 squats
Level 4
max rounds in 20 min
2 sit-ups
4 push-ups
6 squats
5 rounds for time
4 sit-ups
12 push-ups
20 squats
for time
20 sit-ups
41 push-ups
41 squats
Level 5
max rounds in 20 min
3 sit-ups
5 push-ups
8 squats
5 rounds for time
5 sit-ups
15 push-ups
26 squats
for time
26 sit-ups
51 push-ups
51 squats
Level 6
max rounds in 20 min
3 sit-ups
6 push-ups
10 squats
5 rounds for time
6 sit-ups
19 push-ups
32 squats
for time
32 sit-ups
64 push-ups
64 squats
Level 7
max rounds in 20 min
4 sit-ups
8 push-ups
12 squats
5 rounds for time
8 sit-ups
24 push-ups
40 squats
for time
40 sit-ups
80 push-ups
80 squats
Level 8
max rounds in 20 min
5 sit-ups
10 push-ups
15 squats
5 rounds for time
10 sit-ups
30 push-ups
50 squats
for time
50 sit-ups
100 push-ups
100 squats


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Doomsday Prepper Premiere

     So, as many of you know National Geographic has a new series, Doomsday Preppers. The first couple of episodes were aired today, and I gave it a watch.

     As a newer prepper, I am definatly addicted. Prepper culture is often something that is hard to find in action. Most of don't air our plans and make them fully availible like these families are, which in some aspects can make it hard to visualize for newer preppers, what exactly it is that we are working towards. As a result not only am I finding the show a great source of ideas but also a great way to try and get an idea of what I am trying to build.

     Another thing that is great is that the show doesn't just show these people prepping, but also explains why the are prepping and that I think is a great thing. There were reasons ranging from polar shifts, to earth quakes, to the end of oil. I know in my instance, I have a few specific scenarios that I deem the most likely reasons for there to be a SHTF scenario. The first is a second great depression, the second is a pandemic, and the third is war or terrorism. These are the three things that I think are the most likely large scenario possibilities. However I also want to prep for smaller disasters such as severe weather. Of course I'm not going to go into these scenarios now, but I will go into them in later posts.

     Another thing that was cool is that the preppers showed not only their preps and how they did it, but also gave a basic drill of what they would do to either bug in or bug out, and how it would go.

     The greatest part about the show though is that the prepper's different plans and preps were rated on the show, giving us the strengths and weaknesses, which also allowed the preppers to adjust their plans and preps and make them better. I think its a great idea that we can all use. We should all take a look at our plans like that to try and leave as few weaknesses as possible.

     So I will definatly continue watching the show. I find it interesting and full of good ideas, information and just in general a great way to look and see what it is that I am trying to get to. While I would never put my prepper plans out to the public like that, because I wouldn't want to deal with all the people that would come to me trying to survive when they hadn't prepped, I think that it is great to see the different plans, and ways of prepping. Overall I think it is a really fun and interesting show that I will continue watching in the future.

     Did you guys watch Doomsday Preppers? What do you think about the preppers in the show and their plans? Did you find it helpful or fun to watch? Did it inspire you to keep prepping like it did me? Leave me comments! I'd love to hear what you guys think.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Top 100 Things to Disappear First

     This is a list that pops up everywhere, and I have seen it on probebly half a dozen different websites. Still this is a good list so I decided that I would put it up here at the Paracord Project as well, because its always a good list to have around and keep in mind.

So here are the first 100 items to disappear during a disaster scenario:

1. Generators
2. Water filters/purifiers
3. Portable toliets
4. Seasoned firewood
5. Lamp oil, wicks, lamps, lanterns
6. Camp stove fuel
7. Guns, ammunition, pepper spray, knives, clubs, bats and slingshots
8. Hand can openers and hand egg beaters, whisks
9. Honey, syrups, white and brown sugar
10. Rice, beans, wheat
11. Vegetable oil
12. Charcoal, lighter fluid
13. Water containers
14. Mini ehater head (without this item, propane won't heat a room)
15. Non electric grain grinder
16. Propane cylinders
17. Survival guide book
18. Lantern mantles
19. Baby supplies: diapers, formula, ointments, asprins, ect
20. Washboards, mop buck and wringer
21. Propane cookstoves
22. Vitamins
23. Propane cylinder handle-holder
24. Feminine hygiene, haircare, skin products
25. Thermal underwear, polypropylene
26. Bow saws, axes, hatchets, wedges
27. Aluminum foil
28. Gasoline containers
29. Garbage bags
30. Toilet paper, kleenex, paper towels
31. milk, powdered and condensed
32. garden seeds
33. clothes pins, line, hangers
34. Coleman's pump repair kit
35. Tuna fish
36. Fire extinguishers (or... a large box of baking soda in every room)
37. First aid kits
38. Batteries
39. Garlic, spices, vinegar, baking supplies
40. Big dogs, and dog food
41. Flour, yeast, and salt
42. Matches
43. Writing paper, pads, pencils, solar calculators
44. Insulated ice chests
45. Workboots, belts, jeans and durable shirts
46. Flashlights, lightsticks, torches, lanterns
47. Journals, diaries, scrapbooks
48. Garbage cans
49. Hygiene: shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss
50. Cast iron cookware
51. Fishing supplies/tools
52. Mosquito coils, repellent, sprays, creams
53. Duct tape
54. Tarps, stakes, twine, nails, rope, spikes
55. Candles
56. Laundry detergent
57. Backpacks, duffel bags
58. Garden tools and supplies
59. Scissors, fabrics, and sewing supplies
60. Canned fruits, veggies, soups, stews, ect
61. Bleach
62. Canning supplies
63. Knives, sharpening tools, files, stones, steel
64. Bicycles, tires, tubes, pumps, chains
65. Sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, mats
66. Carbon monoxide alarm
67. Board games, cards, dice
68. D-con rat poison, mouse prufe II, roach killer
69. Mousetraps, ant traps, cockroach magnets
70. Paper plates, cups, utensils
71. Baby wipes, oils, waterless and antibacterial soap
72. Rain gear, rubberized boots, ect
73. Shaving supplies
74. Hand pumps and siphons
75. Soysauce, vinegar, bullions, gravy, soup base
76. Boy scout handbook
77. Chocolate, cocoa, tang, punch
78. Survival in a can
79. Woolen clothing, scarves, ear muffs, mittens
80. Reading glasses
81. Window insulation kit
82. Graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, trail mix, jerky
83. Popcorn, peanut butter, nuts
84. Socks, underwear, tshirts, ect
85. Lumber
86. Wagons, carts
87. Cots and inflatable mattresses
88. Gloves, work, warming, gardening ect
89. Lantern hangers
90. Screen patches, glue, nails, screws, nuts and bolts
91. Teas
92. Coffee
93. Cigarettes
94. Wine, liquors
95. Paraffin wax
96. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws
97. chewing gum, candies
98. atomizers
99. hats and cotton neckerchiefs
100. goats and chickens.

     So there it is. What do you guys think about the list. Should something be added, or should some things be taken off, or is it just right?