Screw You Mr. CR123 – I Like AA’s For My Preps

Some items in your prep supplies may require batteries; flashlights, radios, night vision equipment, etc.

When at all possible, I try to get everything in AA size. This allows for easier logistics, battery maintenance, and overall group standard.

Historically, there were some items (like high-powered flashlights) that may do better with other options, such as CR123’s – but this is not always the case. If there is a product line you prefer, chances are there is a AA option.

For example, I really like the Fenix E21 flashlight – 150 lumens, sturdy construction, waterproof and you guessed it, takes AA’s.

This also goes over to weapon optics, the EOTech 512 Holographic Sight takes AA’s, as well as the Aimpoint Comp M4:

Compm4/Compm4s Optical Sights Compm4 2moa

You could easily make a small solar charging station to take care of just your AA needs, and never be without. Take a look at the Sanyo Eneloop line of rechargeable batteries – they seem to be made with the prepper in mind. One note to keep in mind, price seems to vary considerably – even on Amazon – so do your homework.

Eneloop’s can also be found here:

Eneloop SEC-MQN064N 4-Position Charger With 4 AA eneloop Batteries

(one of our affiliates)

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Cache’s as bug out bag building blocks.

I recently read a news paper article about how construction crews found a cache while digging along 66 in Arlington, VA. Specifically they found a PVC tube with supplies and gun parts. I don’t recall if there was an actual gun inside. This got me thinking about caches, cache placement, contents and opsec.
For those of you who haven’t spent much time in Northern Virginia or “NOVA” as the locals refer to it as, 66 is a major commuting route that runs East/West. There is heavy commute traffic during commute hours and I don’t doubt that whoever put the cache there was going to be making their way West to WV.

When selecting the placement of your cache, first consider your route. If you are on a major highway or freeway, you’re wrong. Period. Do a google image search for hurricane katrina traffic or in this case DC commute traffic. Look at all those vehicles stuck sitting there. Is that where you want to be? Think about how bad traffic is just for commuters not to mention if EVERYONE is trying to leave. Realistically, if you’re on a major route and your stuck in traffic you will never get out because someone in front of you will run out of gas from sitting there so long.

These days google maps and mapquest make finding alternate routes easy. Pick a route that excludes highways and freeways and if possible does not go through densly populated areas. If you’re in a city avoiding people is impossible but that doesn’t mean you have no options. In fact, in some cases you may have the most options because of how many streets and alley ways there are in most cities. Plan your route, practice your route then fine tune your route.

Never bury your supplies on the side of the road. Yes, its convenient but road work is something that is always being done and your cache is highly likely to be found by road crews. I suggest parks, forests or other recreational lands that will likely not be in use during emergencies. Remember, if you bury it deep you have to dig deep to get it. Also, avoid digging on hills. Rain can corrode the hillside and cause your cache to migrate. You can tie a rope from your cache to a tree and bury the rope, this way your cache will always be within a specified distance of the tree.

When planning your supplies, I recommend doubling whatever you want to put in there. For instance, if you want a days worth of food, put two days worth of food. The reason is you may have to double back if your intended route is impassible for some reason. You will need the extra supplies to get you to your secondary route. Also, you may find yourself with an unexpected companion or an expected but unprepared companion (many of us have these). There is a youtube user called Analyticalsurvival he has posted a great video on how to plan your route. I highly suggest it searching for his page.

Your first caches should be your largest, from there they should get progressively smaller because you will have or have accumulated your necessities. In my first caches I place a backpack, food, water, small flashlight, rain pancho, money, toiletries, socks, underwear and some other odds and ends. (I wont go too in depth because there are many resources available for you to tailor your caches to your needs.) This first cache is in case I don’t have my B.O.B. or my EDC. This will get me through until I can make it to my next cache where I will have more supplies and ultimately my backpack will almost mirror my B.O.B. if I have my B.O.B. but I’m travelling with someone unprepared, now they have a B.O.B. and won’t deplete my supplies. For food I ordered several mainstay ration pack and MRE main courses from They have good prices, fresh producs and fast shipping. Freeze dried food is an option but for the firt 72 hours I do not want to have to make a fire if I don’t have to. Who know if the area and local situation will be hostile. If it is, I want to make sure that I don’t have to break light discipline at night.

Practice your route. I practiced mine and found that an area on the map that looked passible, wasn’t. Good thing I found out before the shtf. Also, if you have loved ones practice with them, set rally points. If you’re separated you will know what route to take to go look for them if you have to. You will also have an idea of how long it should take them to get there which will prevent uneccessary panic. I recently set caches near a lake that is within walking distance of my house. The cons are that it is frequented by many people and Park Police but the pros are that I have a virtually unlimited supply of water. While placing the caches I look like any ordinary hiker with a large backpack and during times of emergency I dont expect to find anyone out fishing or enjoying water recreation, but if they are, I always have back ups and secondary routes.

Lastly, don’t put guns or anything illegal in your cache unless its on your property. The last thing you want is to get hooked before the shtf and be stuck in prison when you should be protecting your family.

Stay safe, Stay free.

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Faraday Cages

As I write this a sunspot the size of jupiter is pointed straight at the earth. Why does this matter? Most solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CME) originate around sunspots. We are nearing the peak of the solar cycle which means we will see stronger solar flares and CMEs and we will see them more often. In 1859 there was a “super solar flare” now known as a “Carrington event”, named after Richard Carrington a British astronomer who witnessed the event. The resulting flare caused telegraph wires to catch fire and temporarily knocked out the telegraph system in the northern hemisphere. Today, if a carrington event were to happen, its possible that it could knock out between 300 and 350 transformers leaving over 130 million Americans without power, and for who knows how long… Our electrical grid is completely UNPROTECTED from EMP and CME threats. Please, do your own research.

A faraday cage is some type of enclosure made out of an electrical conducive material. The enclosure must be complete and without holes or openings. The easiest, simplest faraday cage I’ve seen is simply buying a metal trash can with a metal lid. Turn on a radio, put it inside, if all you hear on the inside is static then you know it works! The can does need to be lined with something so that the electronics are not directly touching the metal. Thick cardboard will work. Also, ammo cans will work but again, they require some type of liner so your electronics don’t touch the metal and all electronics should be individually wrapped in aluminum foil. The easiest way to do this is to place your radio, gps or 2-way radios into individual plastic sandwich bags and then wrap with foil.

granted this doesn’t work well for items you access on a regular basis but all *spare* electronics should be stored this way. Even if you do for some reason have to use it, how hard is it to re-wrap in foil? EASY.

Sign up at if you want e mail alerts on solar activity.

Stay safe, stay free.

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MAG Rules

Every group should have a few rules – just so there are clear expectations and responsibilities. Don’t go US Tax Code and start making things long and difficult with a 1000 exceptions – Keep It Simple Stupid.

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a solicitation for membership, this is a set of  guidelines that can be used for educational purposes or as a starting point to open a discussion on a rule structure. Please feel free to use/modify them for your own groups.


LEADER – Responsibility for the day-to-day running of the MAG, as well as setting the basic tone, rules and regulations. LEADER is to be the conduit for communication and is responsible for setting up meetings, distributing ideas, and enforcing policies. LEADER has voting power of 1 when it comes to community decisions. During a time of distress, one LEADER from the group will be identified to make all but the most critical of decisions. Each LEADER can identify 4 SANCTIONED as a benefit of group membership.

MEMBER – Active member of the group, is required to abide by the rules and regulations of the group, and receives all the benefits, advantages, and support of the group. Each MEMBER has voting power of 1 when it comes to community decisions. Each MEMBER can identify 4 SANCTIONED as a benefit of group membership.

SANCTIONED – Inactive member of the group. Must be identified by a LEADER or MEMBER. These are normally participating/non-participating family members or loved ones; i.e. Spouse, Brother, Father, ETC. Each SANCTIONED has voting power of 0 when it comes to community decisions, personal preferences and influence will be expressed through their MEMBER’s votes. A MEMBER or LEADER can add to the number of SANCTIONED that they may include by increasing their monthly buy-in by $50 per additional SANCTIONED, up to a maximum total of 6 (4+2).

Each member of the MAG is required to complete the following to be considered for inclusion into said MAG (Mutual Aid Group):

Pre-selection requirements:

1. Be sponsored by an existing member. An individual should not be sponsored unless the member believes that the individual can uphold the spirit of the MAG and meet all obligations.

2. Agree to obtain within 6 months of inclusion to the MAG minimum personal equipment (as to not make the individual a drain on MAG supplies/resources) as follows:

  • AR-15 patterned rifle in 5.56mm (will be in CA compliant status if held in CA, parts/weapons can be held on the main facility property if desired) OR M1a in 7.62
  • 10+ functioning/tested rifle magazines
  • 1000+ rounds quality ammunition in 5.56 or 7.62, as appropriate
  • Appropriate LBE
  • Glock 22, 23 or 35
  • 5+ functioning/tested factory pistol magazines
  • 250+ rounds of defensive .40 S&W ammunition
  • Pistol holster
  • One (1) effective personal defense firearm, with appropriate accoutrements per SANCTIONED. (Already identified group standard above preferred, but not required. Going with what the person is most comfortable with is best.)
  • LTS (Long Term Storage) food; at a minimum, 1 year food supply for MEMBER with minimum 5 year shelf life.

Defined as group standard, recommended, but not required:

  • Mossberg 500
  • 100 + Slugs
  •  100 + 00 Buck
  • 50 + #4 Buck
  • 250+ Bird shot
  • Ruger 10-22 in .22 LR
  • 4+ Ruger Magazines
  • Good selection of .22 LR light hunting rounds

3. Procure additional food storage – 1 Year to complete

  • 6-month food supply for each additional SANCTIONED with the understanding that the goal is 1 yr supply for each person.

4. Demonstrate a skill-set that would be favorable to the MAG, i.e. military training, advanced medical training, communication licenses, mechanical aptitude, farming/gardening skills, construction knowledge, ETC.

5. Pass an interview with the current LEADER and at a minimum 1 MEMBER.

6. Provide initial buy-in funds and agree to current monthly dues.

  • Current buy-in is $2500
  • Future buy-In will be elevated based on improvements made to the MAGs infrastructure. This amount to be decided by group vote.
  •  Current monthly dues is $150 per MEMBER/LEADER
  • See “Accounting” below for details on how these monies will be utilized
  • Discounted/waived initial buy-in and monthly dues will be considered by MEMBER vote based on special circumstances/hardships.
  • “Trade” could also be considered if the applicant has items/skills of sufficient worth to the group.

MAG Rules, Polices, Benefits, And Other Admin

  • All dues, initial buy-in fees and donations will be held in its own account, not shared with any MEMBER or LEADERS’s personal finances.
  • All dues will be considered forfeit upon payment; there will be no reimbursement of funds or returning of assets if membership is canceled.
  •  All accounting will be conducted with complete transparency. It is the right of any MEMBER to request complete financial details at any time.
  •  Funds will be used for major projects/supplies and paying off the loan for the property.
  • The goal is to pay off the property as quickly as possible as to be “free and clear” from debt/foreclosure possibility.
  • Projects to be completed will be voted on.
  • Each MEMBER has the right to inform the LEADER of their wishes as to what will be chaired for discussion as to what the next project will be.
  •  All tangible items (i.e. not site upgrades or reusable items) that are purchased using group funds will not be utilized by an individual unless approved by the LEADER in a time of duress, or group vote at other times.
  • MAG funds can be used to assist any member that has a great personal hardship such as job loss or medical bills.
  • Use of funds and amount to be released will be decided by vote.
  • Individual will pay back the loan as soon as possible, repayment can be waived (partially or in full) – based on personal economic situation.
  • Dues can be waived/suspended during these financial hardship times as well.

Property use

  • All MEMBERS/LEADERS who are current with dues have exclusive rights to use the group’s property for recreational, training, and personal reasons.
  • There will be no permanent modifications done to the property without the group’s knowledge and approval.
  • There will be no leaving of personal vehicles, RV’s or structures without the consent of the group.
  • The property POA rules/ CC&Rs will be followed by every visitor.
  • Hunting will be allowed as long as it is within POA rules and State laws.
  •  Each MEMBER/LEADER can bring SANCTIONED individuals at any time, other visitors can be brought, but keep the following in mind: OPSEC, OPSEC, OPSEC.
  • Permanent structures will be developed as approved by the group.
  • The planting of fruit/nut bearing trees will be given a priority, followed by defensive landscaping, and finally cosmetic landscaping (if any.) These elements will not be tampered with by any visitor, will be protected, and will require eminence whenever the site is visited.


  • All new members will go though the initiation as outlined above.
  •  A member may leave the group at anytime, and no longer have to pay dues.
  • Former members will be treated as any other trespassers or unwelcome guests. The definition/consequences of such will depend on current world situation.
  •  All members will be issued a “challenge coin” to use as identification as a member of the MAG. Details of coin will be described in person.
  • All members are expected to maintain all the items listed as pre-requirements above. Items may be stored on or off property.
  • Each member should strive to make themselves as useful to the rest of the group as possible by developing skills, maintaining personal fitness, and keeping an ample stock of supplies.
  • Each member may be issued a specialty to concentrate on, based on what skills/aptitudes the individual possesses. These include, but do not limit themselves to Gunsmithing, Medical Training, Communications, Logistics, Gardening, Animal Husbandry, Leatherworking, Mechanics, ETC.
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Why We Choose The Glock 22 As Group Standard

I discuss firearms a bit under my Thoughts On Group Standard post, but want to explore why we specifically choose the Glock 22 in .40 Smith & Wesson as our sidearm of choice. To get it out of the way: Glocks are absolutely hideous to look at, and have as much design appeal as a sun-baked turd. If you want a pretty gun, buy a 1911.

To start, I want to say that there are ton’s of great handguns out there – Sig, HK, Colt, Beretta, S&W, Springfield Armory, and others all have great options. But we went with Glock for a multitude of reasons as follows:

Not all firearms are created equal – some designs are intrinsically more reliable than others. Being a secondary weapon, the backup to our main fighting arm, we wanted our sidearm to be utterly reliable as one of the main considerations. Both through personal experience, as well as many published reports on other’s experience led us to the Glock pattern of weapons as a viable option.

Not everyone in the world is a shooter. Not everyone has the time or inclination to spend the amount of effort needed to become highly proficient in a weapon system (I am speaking of a situation where you are thrust into the role of personal protection due to need – not those who have taken the responsibility of protection upon themselves, those individuals better know everything about their weapon) if it’s design is less than optimal. Being a Group Standard, the weapon must speak to all levels of operator, but still meet the other considerations. The Glock platform is simple; simple to field strip, and simple to use. It has the minimal amount of buttons,levers, and switches – yet still does everything you need.

I believe that the 9mm vs. .45 ACP debate will go well past the time we develop lasers, phasers, and plasma rifles (in the 40 watt range). My official position on this debate is 9mm’s are great. So are 45’s. So are .40’s. It comes down to what you like, and meets your needs – the developments in personal protection ammo in the last few decades are amazing, 9mm is not the “mouse gun” it was in the past. One of the greatest things I ever heard was “It’s better to hit with a .22 than miss with a .44” and I believe this is true.

All that being said, we had to come to an agreement to facilitate supply and common parts usage. Some of us live in California, and are limited to a 10-round capacity for magazines – so there was the thought “If we are only going to get 10 rounds, let’s make them the biggest possible”, which led us down the .45 road. But There are of course other considerations, such as what do most members currently have that meet the other criteria (therefore making the burden of buying new guns as impact-less as possible), what caliber is still considered effective, yet can be used by a broad-base of users, and If “standard capacity” magazines can be purchased in other states, what will provide the best benefit all around? This ultimately got us to the .40 S&W. I don’t believe this is a compromise that just fails to meet any requirement, I think it is a suitable round that is perfect for our purposes.

Yep, the world revolves around money (or an invisible axis if you believe all those teachers.) Cost is a consideration, what is the best VALUE (defined here as the best performance in relation to the lowest cost) for your money? We, obviously, once again selected Glock. If you are a person of lesser means, you can still get a police trade-in for under $300 bucks, more if you want upgrades or a newer-gen model. Glocks can run for a good long time, these trade-in’s normally have a lot of life still in them.

Brand new pistols are still on the lower end when compared to a decent 1911, (which is a beautiful work of art and a true gunfighters weapon) Sig, HK, or many other options. You can get vastly inferior pistol (in my opinion – go make your own) for the same cost, such as a S&W Sigma (which has the most god-awful trigger pull ever invented… and looks like a Glock.)

In deciding what should be relied on in a long-term situation, the prospect of repair and resupply comes up. You are pretty likely to find spare parts, magazines, and other accruements for Glocks (probably for the other reasons outlined above.)

That just about covers the thought process on why we chose the Glock 22 in .40 S&W. There are some other minor considerations (such as being able to use magazines from larger frame models in the the smaller varieties and the ability to switch calibers in others) that helped us in our choice, but I feel the above is a good representation.

What sidearm are ya’ll going with, and why did you choose it?

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(Part 1) Water, Water, Every Where, Nor Any Drop To Drink – Water And The Prepper

Water is basically the most important thing to us humans, and virtually all living things. The problem is, all water is not created equal, and some can seriously mess you up – like kill you.

You can purify water by using chemicals, filters, and other processes. I recommend that each person not only store quality drinking and washing water, they should also hold the skills and supplies to produce clean drinking water. On top of storage and processing, thought should be put to how future water will be acquired; will it be cashed from rain? An on-property pond? Spring? Well? Hope and a dance?

If you don’t feel like reading everything below, here is the short version:

  • Have a water processing plan/supplies
  • Have a storage method
  • Have an acquisition plan

Salt Water
Before we talk about “fresh” water, lets talk about salt water. It is generally well-known that you cannot drink pure salt water because of the negative affects on your body. According to Bill Bryson in A Short History of Nearly Everything:

Take a lot of salt into your body and your metabolism very quickly goes into crisis. From every cell, water molecules rush off like so many voluntary firemen to try to dilute and carry off the sudden intake of salt. This leaves the cells dangerously short of the water they need to carry out their normal functions. They become, in a word, dehydrated. In extreme situations, dehydration will lead to seizures, unconsciousness, and brain damage. Meanwhile, the overworked blood cells carry the salt to the kidneys, which eventually become overwhelmed and shut down. Without functioning kidneys you die. That is why we don’t drink seawater.

There are desalination plants that can produce fresh water from salt water, but the process costs about five times as much as getting fresh water. In an emergency, you can create drinking water from the evil stuff of the ocean – the process is pretty well outlined HERE.

An alternate product that filters salt water by using a “sports drink charge” is known as the SeaPack Water Desalination Kit.

An expensive hand-pump filter is one more option, but are quite spendy.

For those who like to read, this may be of interest, a report from the World Health Organization titled “Safe Drinking-water from Desalination”.

Filtering questionable water is a process preferred by many people. Hikers and outdoorsman have for some time have had portable filtration systems to make water found in the field – at a stream or pond – ready and good to drink. These type of filters are great for a BOB, but normally can cost about $100 bucks or more. I do not have a favorite hiking filter, but look for one that does not require additional chemicals or components beyond the filter elements, because in an emergency, resupply of these elements may be non-existent.

For bulk water filtration, the all out king is the Berkey family of filters. Just dump your questionable water in the top, and dispense the good stuff below. I recommend assigning one or more 5 gallon water jugs to store some of the filtered water as the process is quite slow. You can see my stored Big Berkey in the photo below (center of the photo, on the right side, in the white box):

The Berkey filters are quite expensive, but there are cheaper options available. You have to build your own system using buckets and the filters, and the quality is not at the level of the big name Berkey, but it is a viable alternative.

Another option is you can make your own filter out of natural elements; such as sand, pebbles, and charcoal. Basically you layer these elements and pass the water through it. I will try to create my own in the near future and create a full post to demonstrate it.

The Chemical option is only as good as the supply of said chemical additive. That being said, some of these chemicals can purify ALOT of water, so should be looked at in your prepper planning.

The first option is iodine tablets, the mainstay of hikers and military personnel before the development of effective filters. These tablets are still in use today, and can be found in most sporting-goods outlets, surplus stores, and Online.

I would not use these tablets unless it was a true emergency, the EPA advises that iodine is not 100% effective against Giardia and Cryptosporidium – which is kind of the idea of these things. They are portable and could help if your life depended on it.

Next, lets talk about bleach. Bleach is a good purifier that can purify a vast amount of water, for not much cost. We are talking thousands of gallons for only a few bucks (roughly 3,800 gallons of water per gallon of bleach.)

The general consensus on the process is basically:

  • If boiling is not possible, treat water by adding liquid household bleach, such as Clorox or Purex. Household bleach is typically between 5 percent and 6 percent chlorine. Avoid using bleaches that contain perfumes, dyes and other additives. Be sure to read the label.
  • Place the water (filtered, if necessary) in a clean container. Add the amount of bleach according to the table below.
  • Mix thoroughly and allow to stand for at least 30 minutes before using (60 minutes if the water is cloudy or very cold).
Bleach Chart

Bleach Chart

The problem with bleach is it’s relatively short shelf life, here is Clorox’s official statement on the matter, and the recap:

  • We add extra bleach during manufacturing to take into account expected temperature changes and to maintain our stated label 6% sodium hypochlorite level for Clorox Regular-Bleach.
  • Under most typical home storage conditions this 6% active level will be maintained at least 6 months. Excellent performance should be expected for around a year under these conditions.
  • Extreme exposure may reduce the active level below 6%, but excellent performance will be maintained for laundry and home cleaning for at least 9 months.
  • Opening the bottle does NOT have an effect on hypochlorite stability nor make the product ineffective.

So bleach is great, but has a short shelf life – enter the best of both worlds “CALCIUM HYPOCHLORITE”, AKA “Pool Shock”. This product can be found in large retailers and obviously pool/spa supply shops. It is sold normally with a Calcium Hypochlorite concentration of about 70%, this is what you are looking for on the packaging: Active ingredients Calcium Hypochlorite 70% (ish)

The military has long used this product in its operations, as outlined in the technical bulletin: SANITARY CONTROL AND SURVEILLANCE OF FIELD WATER SUPPLIES. to quote the TB:

The preferred military water disinfectant is chlorine. The most common chemical issued to the military for bulk water disinfection is calcium hypochlorite that is approximately 68 to 70 percent FAC.

Most Calcium Hypochlorite has a shelf life of about 10 years, much better than the 6 months – year you get from bleach. Remember that once you mix it though, it will reduce down to the bleach level for shelf life.

To make your pool shock (Calcium Hypochlorite) into “Survivalist Bleach” you take about 2 level tablespoons and put it into 3 cups of water, mix, and you are good to go. Use the above chart for bleach, and you will have the appropriate amount to use to purify water. One thing to remember is that the end product should have a slight chlorine smell after waiting the 30-60 minutes, if not, put some more in, wait, and you should get the smell. At this point, if you don’t – throw out this batch and start over.

I have created both survivalist bleach as well as taken regular, unscented bleach and treated some water at my house with each. I could not scientifically say which worked better, but this was more of a test to see how to make the Calcium Hypochlorite solution, and to test the flavor. Imagine drinking water-downed pool water (without the pee), now you know how it tastes. If I had to choose which one was better, I don’t think I could (they were about the same – Calcium Hypochlorite was a little more “metallic” in taste.)

Treatment is a process that somehow makes the water safer through a process that does not include chemicals or filters. Understanding these procedures could be your best bet on a long-term event.

The first option is boiling the water in question – in fact, this is the most highly recommended way to purify water. This takes a considerable amount of resources and time, but is very effective. It is recommended to boil the water for at least a minute.

The problem with boiling, other than needing certain equipment, supplies, and time is it makes the water taste “flat”. This can be helped by passing the treated water from one container to the other, aerating it and improving the taste.

Another option is using the sun and clean bottles – know as “SODIS”. This is the brief explanation found in the full report on the technique:

Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) is a simple, environmentally sustainable, low-cost solution for drinking water treatment at household level for people consuming microbiologically contaminated raw water. SODIS uses solar energy to destroy pathogenic micro-organisms causing water borne diseases and there- with it improves the quality of drinking water. Pathogenic microorganisms are vulnerable to two effects of the sunlight: radiation in the spectrum of UV-A light (wavelength 320-400nm) and heat (increased water temperature).

A synergy of these two effects occurs, as their combined effect is much greater than the sum of the single effects. This means that the mortality of the microorganisms increases when they are exposed to both temperature and UV-A light at the same time.

SODIS is ideal to disinfect small quantities of water of low turbidity. Contaminated water is filled into transparent plastic bottles and exposed to full sunlight for six hours. During the exposure to the sun the pathogens are destroyed. If cloudyness is greater than 50% , the plastic bottles need to be exposed for 2 consecutive days in order to produce water safe for consumption. However, if water temperatures exceed 50°C, one hour of exposure is sufficient to obtain safe drinking water. The treatment efficiency can be improved if the plastic bottles are exposed on sunlight re-flecting surfaces such as aluminium- or corrugated iron sheets

I could see this as a great option at the BOL for summer-time purification. Blend this technique with boiling water in the winter (so you capitalize on the heat produced so you don’t freeze to death) and you have a good overall plan that takes only minor preplanning.

That should wrap up your processing options, please let me know if you have any ideas of your own. The next part in this series will cover water storage and acquisition.

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Fiction – Boy Part 4

Part 3 can be found HERE.

Joan took him to the back of the small motel where the laundry/pump house was. The inside was just what he expected; it was dark, with a musty smell – but overall it was clean. There was the water heater, a large water softener, a few commercial washing machines with matching driers, a few five-gallon water jugs, a half-dozen bags of salt for the softener, some more buckets like the ones found in his room, and various other cleaning or laundry supplies. The boy spied an especially interesting find on the top of the shelf in the back of the room; an old military rucksack frame.

“There’s the softener” Joan said after the Boy entered the room. You need to take out all the salt and water that’s in it, clean it up, and then fill it up. I’ll use it for water to flush the toilets – I want to save the potable water that is left in the heater. You can use the buckets to slop out the salt, one of those water cans and some bleach from the cleaning cart to finish up. After your done, I’ll show you where the pond is.”

“Sounds good, I’ll get started. One quick question, are you using that?” The Boy asked, pointing to the army frame.

“That old thing? There is not even a backpack attached to it – some mice found it and ate through most of it but my ex-husband didn’t want to throw it out. Of course I’m not using it – you want it?”

“It could come in handy, yea.”

“Well, if you do a good job, it’s yours.”

“Can I use it for the work? I can strap one of those water cans to it and increase the amount of water I can carry at once.”

Joan gave him a thumbs up as she walked out. “Go ahead, I’ll be at the front if you need me.”

The Boy started working. The water softener was only about half full and in about 45 minutes, using the buckets, he had the thing empty and reasonably clean. Being the sort to take pride in his work, and the motivator of his supplies being half price for a job well done, he spent another half hour doing some extra work. He mopped up the entire room, cleaning up more than just the drips and splatter made when emptying the softener. He cleaned and stacked all the buckets, then cleaned and put away any supplies he used in the task.

Joan came in with a glass of tea for him just as he was finishing up. “Wow, you do good work – I’m not going to come out with the extra money on this one, am I?”

He just smiled as he drank the tea when offered.

The Boy grabbed the rucksack frame down off the top shelf, and inspected it. Like Joan said, the backpack portion was missing, but thankfully the shoulder straps were in good condition, as was the frame itself. He lashed one of the water cans to the back, using some spare rope that Joan had.

He left behind any other buckets, but took his water-bearing backpack on the first trip out to the pond. He wanted to be able to pay attention to the way, as well as get a good feeling about his surroundings.

Joan chatted as she walked, mostly small talk about her ex-husband, the town or her hotel. The Boy noted she walked fairly slowly, and should be able to double her speed on the way out to the pond when he wouldn’t be encumbered with fifteen gallons – over a hundred and twenty pounds – of water. He was planning on using two buckets in addition to his pack.

The pond came into view in about five minutes of walking, and they were at it in two minutes after that.

The Boy filled up his backpack can, and they started back – the first of five more trips he made. The water softener ended up being almost eighty gallons total.

Joan could not find any fault in the work that was done, and thanked the Boy many times for his efforts. The Boy took his thanks, rounded up all the supplies negotiated, and crashed asleep on his bed five minutes after eating two boxes of individual-sized fruit loops cereal .

The Boy woke up just as the sun started shining through the blinds in his room. His body felt a strange ache and comfort all at once. The ache was from the hard work, and the comfort was from sleeping in a good bed.

He went through his gear, laying out everything onto the queen-sized bed into various little piles; shelter pile, food, water, clothing, cold weather, comfort, tools, and so on. He went outside with the shower curtain and the cans of spray paint. He had brown and black, he used these to create some semblance of a camouflage pattern on one side of the shower curtain – leaving the other side its natural cream color.

While it dried, he set about using the rucksack frame and route 66 memorabilia to rig up a new carrying system. With the water can back in the laundry room, he had plenty of room for this task.

After a few tries, filling it up, testing it, and repacking his backpack “system”, the Boy was happy with his results. Not only was the new pack more comfortable, and unlike the first design he had been using, he was much more sure that this was not going to break.

He washed up, grabbed his pack and went to breakfast.

Joan served him everything that was talked about the day before. The highlight of the meal was definitely the hot coffee. It brought about a sense of normalcy and just tasted dang good.

After breakfast, she tried to convince him to stay for a few days, offering food, a place to stay, a small salary, and the promise to drive him back to the big city once this blew over. He kindly neglected her offer, thanked her for her hospitality, and continued on his journey.

The Boy went for days without seeing another town, person, or incident. He walked allot, while he ate and slept little. He thought that civilization would start breaking down about this time, so he started going cross-country – no longer paralleling the road.

On the morning of the seventh day after the incident, the boy came to a large river. According to his maps, a small town was to the south. The Boy thought this was a good opportunity to take a pulse on what was going on, and there was a bridge that could be used if the coast was clear.

The town was virtually deserted. He watched it from the treeline for an hour or so, and there was little sign of anything going on. He circled around to the far side of the settlement, and watched that side for another hour – still nothing telling.

The Boy carefully went into the town, walking down side-streets in the general direction of the river. The closer and closer he got, the more the hairs on his neck were standing on end. Where were all the people? Did they all go to a refugee camp? Were they evacuated? Run off?

Not far from the river, the Boy went up to one of the houses. He could see the wood around the lock shattered, a large boot mark dirtied the otherwise clean, red, door. Just as he was going to bolt and run out to the safety of the tree line, he heard loud laughing coming from the area where the bridge should be, past the house. He went next to the house, and crawled through the bushes. Shortly, he was able to see the bridge. There was a road block of two cars, and over a dozen people armed with a variety of weapons – from civil-war black powder rifles to AK-47’s. The group holding these weapons looked like a mixture of lowlifes and petty criminals, even the two females looked like they had spent some time behind bars.

Closer to the Boy was a group of five men, talking to the people manning the roadblock. Instantly he knew the type of people the five came from, and those on the bridge should be allot more polite than they were apparently being. This group was all identically armed with short-barreled carbines from the AR family of weapons; with the exception of the man in the middle who carried a larger AR – possibly a .308 version AR10. All of the weapons were individualized with optics, rail systems, lasers and lights. None were overdone, just tailored to each shooter. All the men had war-belts, chest-rigs, or both to carry extra magazines, supplies, and sidearms.

Just the way they were standing should have clued in the low-lifes on the bridge. Only three were facing them, two were facing the rear, and they were all spread out. They did not look current military, no one had on a uniform, but they were definitely ex-military. If the Boy had to guess, Spec-ops or at the very least some form of combat arms who took their job very seriously.

These men were true hard-cases, not the wanna be’s that those on the bridge have encountered before in their lives. America keeps it’s killers in two places; prison and the forests training for the next war. The Boy almost felt bad for the criminals because they truly did not know the hornet’s nest they were kicking.

“Move your cars and step aside, we need to get through.” The man with the large AR said, his tone not confrontational, but more like a pleasant request.

One of the men on the bridge spoke up “Yea, we can move, but your going to have to pay a toll.” This caused the others to start laughing out loud as if he said the funniest thing in the world. “How about one of those fancy rifles?” More laughter.

“I’m not giving you my rifle, now please step aside.” Still calm, relaxed.

The thug seemed to get agitated, he probably was used to people doing what he said “yea, how about we take it from…”

“BUST ‘EM” the hard case yelled, interrupting the low-life mid-sentence. As he yelled, he and the others in the group shouldered their rifles and layed waste to the entire population on the bridge. The two men facing the rear spun a moment after everyone started shooting, adding their guns to the fight. It was over in seconds.

The five ran to the roadblock, shooting anyone still moving until they got past the cars. Two of the five started pulling security, one in each direction of the bridge. Two started throwing their opponents rifles over the edge and into the water below – the exception being one Vietnam era M16, which he kept. The last man, the one with the big rifle, started blowing on a whistle, two short bursts followed by two more.

A teen-ager, two boys that were about ten each, and three women came running up from one of the houses. The teen pushed a large garden cart, filled with rucksacks. Two of the three women carried a baby in their arms, and all except the babies had a backpack and rifle.

The men quickly grabbed their respective pack from the cart and the group started running across the bridge. It was less than a minute from the time the shooting started to when they were all across the river.

The second they were out of sight, the Boy ran from cover towards the bridge. He dumped his pack, and dove into the river. He scraped his hands on the rocky bottom, searching for anything man-made. The dark muddy water had no visibility, so he was probing blindly. At the last moment before his air ran out, he found what felt to be the barrel of a rifle.

Grabbing it, he spun, and kicked hard to the surface. He had no time to go diving for something else, what he found would have to do.

When he got to the shore, he discovered he found a Springfield Trapdoor rifle in .45-70. The Boy muttered “better that nothing”, ran up to get his bag and see if he could get some ammo for this thing.

He quickly found a huge man with a leather belt that had a large knife in a sheath and loops filled with .45-70 cartridges. The man had at least five bullet wounds, all the way from his pelvis to one just under his right cheek. Getting the belt undone with the mans wight and slickness from the blood was a task that took longer than he liked, especially once he started hearing yelling from the town.

He finally undid the belt, and ripped it from under the man. The Boy grabbed his rucksack and then ran across the bridge. When he was at the end, he could start to hear shooting coming from behind him.

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Make Your Own Cheese In Under An Hour

Making your own cheese is easy. There are many varieties that are much harder and require much more ingredients – but at the simplest level you only really need Milk and Vinegar. Salt and Herbs will help flavor, but not 100% required.

For the recipe below, I used:
– 1 Gallon Milk (2%)
– 1 Pint Heavy Cream
– Half Cup Vinegar
– Salt
– Basil and cilantro

NOTE: I used 2% milk because homogenized milk fat gets a waxy texture on your teeth when eaten as cheese, but the heavy cream has the needed fats, I find the combo is a good mix.

The process is as follows:
1. Heat your milk slowly, stirring consistently so it does not burn. I am a “wing it and guess” kind of guy, but for those sticklers out there 190 degrees is the recommended level. Below, you can see me trying to do it right and measure – it turned out the same when I don’t.

2. 190 degrees is just before the milk boils, when it gets there, turn off the heat.

3. Add vinegar, and stir the mixture quickly. The mix will start to separate into chunks – knows as “curds and whey”.

4. Let the mixture cool.

5. Using either cheesecloth – or in a pinch, a t-shirt, take out the whey (the fluid) from the curds (the chunks) – saving the curd. I find it easiest to line a colander with your fabric of choice and pour the mixture through it all.

6. Sprinkle in some salt, and mix the ingredients together. I Like sea or a coarser salt. At this point you can also throw in some chopped herbs for flavor – In this case I used basil and cilantro.

7. Bring all the edges of the cloth together, kind of like a “hobo sack” suspending the mass of curds and herbs in the center. Twist the “ball” of ingredients so that pressure is forced on them as you twist. Liquid will be forced out from the ball as this is done. Open the sack, mix the ingredients around a bit, and repeat a few times – do this as hard as you can as it is what creates your solid cheese.

8. Put the tightened cloth/cheese/ball thing into the fridge to get nice and chilled.

9. Cut, serve and enjoy!

Th end result is kind of like a cross between a mozzarella and a ricotta – a quite tasty combo!

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Rain Water Harvesting – A Freedom Hold Ranch Members Journey

Please note that the following was not written by FreedomholdVP, but another member of the MAG. I would like to thank him and his father for their work!

Before I begin to detail my experience building our rainwater harvesting system I would like to point out that I have no construction experience at all. This is the first time I have done anything that I would even consider construction. This was a learning experience for me; hopefully it will be for others too. I would like to say thank you to my dad, I almost attempted to do this alone but it would’ve been nearly impossible without his help.

The Plan: The plan was to build a rain water harvesting system by attaching corrugated plastic sheets to plywood (for a clean smooth contaminate free surface area) and angle it at one end with a 2×4 to give it a slight angle to the gutter. Also, during this process we will insulate the roof with rolls of insulation. The rain gutter will connect to a 3” PVC pipe system which will lead to an 1100 gal water tank. With a surface area of 160 sq. ft. (5 sheets of plywood.) for every inch of rain we collect (.62 gal) we will harvest 99.2 gallons of water. The plan is to filter the rain water through our Big Berkey water filter that will be part of an outdoor kitchen.

The execution: Theoretically this should’ve only taken a few hours to a day but that’s why it’s a theory right? We rented a fully enclosed U-Haul trailer (This was initially used to move personal items to the property but was kept to haul materials.) One advantage of the fully enclosed trailer is OPSEC; In remote areas, the people that are there will remember you and what you’re doing. A truck pulling a U-Haul trailer is someone moving furniture. A truck with (insert whatever project materials you have) is doing exactly that, building whatever. But why the need for OPSEC with a rainwater harvesting system? For me, I simply don’t want anyone to know what resources are in place at our property. Also, some jurisdictions require permits for rainwater harvesting or ban it out right.

Now for a trip to the local hardware store, ever notice how hot dogs come in packs of eight but buns are in packs of 12? Don’t worry, that theory is the same for other things too. Nothing is standard. Plywood is 8ft long but gutters are 10ft long and the screens the go in those 10 foot gutters come in 3f foot increments so at best you get 9ft per gutter so you have to buy and extra one and cut it. There were other little things like that but don’t worry you’ll find out for yourself. The important thing is to plan and visualize every step of the process so you don’t forget to buy anything you may need.

We have a 20ft shipping container so that means two 10 foot sections of gutter. Instead of using a joiner we used a down spout that would connect the two and serve as our joiner. (The disadvantage to this was that we would have a longer pipe going to the water tank which caused the piping to sag a bit, possibly disrupting the flow of water during a light rain due to the shallow angle. In the future I plan to re-do the gutter system to feed from the end closest to the tank. Note the brace in the piping in the picture below.) From there we purchased an adapter that will convert the rectangular shape of gutter piping to 3” round PVC. So, everything after the downspout is now 3” round PVC. Next we need to have a “first flush” system. This will allow the dirt, pollen, and leaves etc. to flush out of the system before going into your water supply. To do this we will have a “T-fitting” in the pipe line with a 10” piece of pipe going straight down to the ground. The bottom of the pipe is capped but a small hole is drilled to allow the water to drain (I used the smallest drill bit possible.) In the pipe is a tennis ball. As water flows in it fills the pipe with the initial dirty water. The tennis ball will eventually float to the top and act as a valve that closes off the small pipe forcing water to flow to the tank. You may want a larger first flush system 3-5ft of pipe. The only thing that seems to collect on our roof is dust and pollen so we only need a small flush. Also, since the rain that I was experiencing while at the ranch were short and light in duration I didn’t want to lose all the rainwater to the first flush system. Once through the flushing system it goes to the tank. A lesson learned here was that the first flush system combined with the long tube to the tank creates a lot of weight where the pipe meets the down spout. Instead of using silicone to seal and “glue” the pieces use PVC cement, the silicone will just stretch and break. (Note the small piece of pipe behind the down spout, this was to keep the spout angled straight down and not back at the container.)

Our trailer was only 4’X8’ so we were limited on how many materials we could bring out at once. The first trip we took out the plywood, screws and small items, and corrugated plastic. Due to the terrain and the distance to the nearest city this first trip took 3 hours. The second trip took about the same amount of time plus the time it took to pick out and purchase supplies, stop for lunch and get gas… We finally made it out to the property to begin work around 3pm.

The weather caused serious delays. When I first got to work on top of the container, rolling out the insulation it started to rain and there was a lot of lightning overhead. Since it was already late in the day I decided to pack up for the night. There were several other times where the rain and lightning interfered with and delayed work. I did not have the luxury of planning this trip specifically to complete the rain water harvesting system. It was more of an opportunity. If I had I would’ve checked the weather and made sure I wasn’t trying to do work during thunder storms. I guess it was Murphy’s Law because the weather was perfect until I got there and clear as soon as I left.

Another “complication” (that ended up being a blessing in disguise) was that I had planned on picking up the water tank from a “local” (about 2.5 hours away) water/septic tank store on a Saturday. I’m glad I checked their hours on the internet because they are only open M-F. I only wished I had checked earlier than Friday night. It worked out though because I still needed to put together the roof, finish laying the insulation, get the rain gutters and piping etc. I was also still unable to locate a utility trailer for rent. Both of the local U-Haul stores did not have them and there was one at United Rentals but it was too big for my small truck and it would also be hard to get to the property due to its length. Luckily I ran in to a “local” and explained my situation and he was able to point me to an Ace Hardware store that kept the water tanks in stock. It was Sunday afternoon and I didn’t make it down in time before they closed but I could see plenty of water storage tanks in their yard. I was there first thing Monday morning. I have to say, the folks at ACE were great, their customer service is excellent! I ended up getting a 1100 gal tank for $530 and delivered to the property for $50. This was a considerable savings because had I made it to the “local” tank store I was going to pay $421 for a 500 gal tank, plus I had to rent a trailer, a tank of gas and 6 hours of my day. Not only that but they completely re-arranged their delivery schedule to deliver my tank first thing that morning after I explained to them that I had to leave town the next day. What service!

It was also fortunate for me that it is common place for people in our area to live off of water stored in tanks. This meant that the employee’s at ACE were very familiar with my needs and were able to fit me with all the appropriate accessories. If you look closely at the pictures you will see a screen covering the opening of the tank. This is to keep mosquitoes and rodents out. Also, note the overflow pipe coming down out of the top of the tank. This too had to be covered with screen to keep bugs and rodents out. At the bottom of the tank there is a 3” ball valve that is reduced to the size of a garden hose fitting. Be sure to use a brass fitting at your connection to reduce wear and tear. The tanks come pre-fitted with these threaded holes so no drilling was required!

The weekend was spent screwing the corrugated plastic to the plywood and adding the 1×4’s to one end (for attaching the gutter to the “roof”) and the 2×4’s at the other end (to give the “roof a slight angle). Changing from a drill bit to a Phillips head screwdriver bit after drilling the pilot holes, so I could screw down the corrugated plastic was very time consuming. The work would’ve gone much faster if I had two drills. Once the pieces were all put together and lifted to the top of the shipping container I poured some water on the plastic panels to check the rate of flow. The water pooled in the middle of the plastic panel. I hadn’t foreseen the fact that, due to the length, the panels would sag in the middle. This meant I either had to re-build the panels and add 1×4’s lengthwise somehow to make them rigid or increase the angle at which they sat, I opted for the latter. We were limited on how much lumber we had so instead of running 2×4’s the length of the entire shipping container we had to cut small pieces and fit them where the plywood pieces met each other, and of course another trip to the hardware store for brackets and self tapping screws.

An important step to installing the tank itself is to make sure there are no rocks under the tank. 1100 gal tank means it weighs 8,800 pounds. If all that weight is sitting on a rock there’s no doubt it will punch a hole in your tank. I had to clear and level a much larger area at the last minute for the larger tank and I’m not entirely confident that its completely free and clear of rocks and that its level to my satisfaction but by now I was on my last day to work so I did the best I could. In the future I plan to go back, drain the tank and pour sand under it so it will self level as it fills.

Who else uses rainwater as a method to collect water?

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Evaporated Milk – Not Just For Gran’ Ma’s Cooking

Evaporated Milk (EM), I love the stuff – It’s a great short-term prep type item that has tons of uses as compared to regular milk.

EM has a shelf life, for the unsweetened variety, of about a year and a half +/-; try that Mr. Moo Juice in a jug. I know that this is only a portion of powdered milk, but there are other benefits besides just a long shelf life, such as:

– Flavor, it tastes good (but is a somewhat acquired taste.) EM is processed by removing some of the water content (amongst other things), which gives it an interesting flavor.

– Good portion sizes, most EM comes in approx 12oz cans – if you just need a little, you don’t have to waste a bunch. (As compared to opening a #10 can of powdered milk.)

– Convenience, I look at prepping as an everyday journey where I learn, challenge myself, and mentally process options for an alternative future. The convenience of EM lets me learn in short spurts. For example, I love mac and cheese (it’s my childhood guilty pleasure) – but don’t keep gallons of milk in the house; this is where a little 12 oz can of EM comes in real handy. This is the same for any boxed meal (some Hamburger Helpers, Rice a’ Roni, ETC.) that requires regular milk.

– Can be split, at about a 1-to-1 ratio with milk, and has roughly the same nutritional value as fresh milk.

– In a pinch, can be used as baby formula (Link to Study), but of course, breast milk is better.

I suggest picking up a case/can or two and try it out. I don’t recommend drinking it per say, but as a component for cooking, its nutritional characteristics, and as a back-up for short-term emergencies – I think it’s a winner.

Anyone else like EM? What uses have you found?

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